Cole Hamels: The stopper.
After two straight games that saw their starting pitchers give up a total of 18 runs, the Philadelphia Phillies turned to Cole Hamels to stop the bleeding against the Boston Red Sox.
And boy, did he ever.
Cole was sharp from the outset, striking out four of the first six batters he faced with a fastball that touched the mid-90s. He made his only mistake of the day in the second inning, when he left an 0-2 cutter out over the plate to Adrian Beltre, who promptly launched it over The Green Monster to give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.
The Phils would not be deterred by an early deficit, and came storming back against Boston starter Tim Wakefield by tagging him for four runs in the top of the fourth. After Ryan Howard roped a one-out double to right, Jayson Werth brought him home with an RBI single, followed by a two-run homer from Raul Ibanez to give the Phils to lead. Ben Francisco then doubled and would score on an RBI single from Juan Castro to cap the Phils’ rally.
Hamels took control of the game from there, but would hit a spot of trouble in the sixth inning. With men on first and second with none away, Cole struck out Beltre on three pitches and got David Ortiz to ground out to second, before Mike Lowell popped up to end the threat.
The Phils tacked on an insurance run in the ninth inning on a Ben Francisco sacrifice fly, and turned the game over to J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge, who combined to allow two runs in the ninth inning to close out the game for the Phillies.
To say that this was a must-win for the Phillies would be a gross understatement. After having Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton get taken to task by the Red Sox, Hamels stepped up and shut them down, combined with just enough timely hitting to take the win.
The win puts them at 32-29 on the season and 3.5 games behind Atlanta for the division lead. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but it’s only June. Keep that in mind.
It doesn’t get much easier for the Phils, who head to the Bronx for a three-game set with the Yankees. In game one, Roy Halladay (8-4, 1.96) takes on CC Sabathia (6-3, 4.01).
Cole Hamels (W, 6-5) allowed one run over seven innings on five hits and two walks, while striking out eight.
Placido Polanco went 2 for 4 with a double (13).
Jayson Werth went 1 for 3 with an RBI and two runs.
Raul Ibanez went 1 for 4 with a homer (4) and two RBIs.
Ben Francisco went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run.
Brad Lidge (S, 4) struck out one and allowed one hit in two-thirds of an inning to earnthe save.
Tim Wakefield (L, 2-5) allowed four runs on seven hits over seven and third, walking one and striking out three.
Adrian Beltre went 1 for 4 with a homer (9) and an RBI.
Daniel Nava went 2 for 4 with a double (2) and an RBI.
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