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Hamels, Victorino Lead Phillies in Edging Diamondbacks

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             Cole Hamels     Shane Victorino

Phillies red-hot hitting  centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 on Tuesday with a solo homer and an RBI double off of Arizona’s Dan Haren and ace lefthander Cole Hamels threw eight innings of dominant 1 run, 4 hit ball striking out 9.  The ninth inning got a bit sticky as closer Brad Lidge walked the lead-off hitter and gave up a 2 run homer before retiring the next 3 hitters as Hamels and Victorino led the Phillies in edging the Diamondbacks by a 4-3 score in game 2 of their series.

With the win, the Phils maintained a 7 game lead in the NL East division race on 2nd place Florida who edged 3rd place Atlanta who now trails by 8 games. The Mets won and remain 10 1/2 games out in fourth place.

The Phils got behind the 8-ball early against one of the absolute-top-tier NL pitchers in Dan Haren as D-backs’ 2nd baseman Ryan Roberts solved Hamels for a 1 out solo shot to to rightfield in the first inning.  The odd thing about Roberts’ blast off of Hamels; Roberts has but 3 career homers.

To give an idea of just how good Haren’s been, check this out: Prior to Tuesday — 13 earned runs against him in 65 innings over his last 9 starts for a weak hitting, weak defensive team.  Haren’s given up only 36 earned runs in 148 innings thus far this season, including the 2 in Tuesday’s five innings against the Phils.

But Hamels retired 7 of the first 8 hitters he faced before Haren singled with 1 out in the third inning — 1 of 2 hits he gave up in the inning and out of a total of 4 hits given up over his eight innings.  Hamels then retired the final 2 hitters of the third inning enroute to retiring the next 8 hitters in a row before an error and a single in the sixth inning.  After an error and a single in the sixth, Hamels retired the final 8 hitters he faced.  The third and sixth innings were the only times the D-backs managed to reach base on Hamels who walked none while striking out 9 in out-pitching Haren.

AP sports writer Andrew Bagnato comments on Hamels in his game recap for Yahoo sports:

On this night the story was Hamels. He looked as sharp as he did last autumn, when he was named MVP of the World Series and the NL championship series.

Phillies Nations’ Amanda Orr provides a recap on Tuesday’s game:

In the third inning, Shane Victorino said aloha to Haren’s fastball up in the zone. The homer tied the game at one, and Victorino was far from finished.

With one out in the fifth, Hamels doubled to start a rally.  Jimmy Rollins reached base on Stephen Drew’s error, and Hamels headed to third. The Phillies were in perfect position to take a lead. They did so on Victorino’s ground-rule double.  Victorino finished the night a triple shy of the cycle.

Rollins scored on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error.  Chase Utley grounded to first, and Rollins was a dead duck at the plate. However, Utley made a terrific move, running in the throwing lane, but without interference. It worked, because Chad Tracy airmailed the throw, and the Phillies took a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies were able to knock out Haren after five innings.

Hamels looked like one of the league’s finest tonight, returning to his old form. He wiggled out of a couple jams, but overall was brilliant. He pitched eight innings, allowing one run on four hits…. It’s been a while since Hamels has been able to tally up the strikeouts, but he did today against the Diamondbacks.

Jayson Werth’s RBI ground out in the seventh gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead, and they needed every bit of it with Brad Lidge coming in for the save. Lidge gave up a two-run home run to Mark Reynolds, but sweat through the save.

Hamels threw 112 pitches through eight innings for his 7th win against 5 losses this season.  Losing pitcher Haren (10-6) threw 117 pitches through five innings giving up a total of 3 runs on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.  With the score at 3-1 in the seventh inning, lefthanded reliever
Scott Schoeneweis, who blew many a game against the Phils while with the Mets, was charged with the decisive winning run.

Lidge, who suffered through a dicey ninth inning by walking the lead-off hitter and then being tagged for Reynolds’ homer, retired the next 3 hitters to earn his 20th save in 26 opportunities.

For the scores of all of Tuesday’s games, click here.

In Wednesday’s series final, young lefthander J.A. Happ (7-1, 2.97 ERA), still being mentioned in prospective trade talks regarding Roy Halladay, etc., is scheduled to oppose Yusmeiro Petit (0-5, 7.68) as the Phils think possible sweep of the series.

For all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

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