Aug 302010

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels

August 30 Philadelphia Inquirer

“As Mike Sweeney rounded first base Sunday, he pointed to Chad Durbin, who was sitting in the visitors’ bullpen down the right-field line. All of a sudden Cole Hamels had a bounty of run support (seriously), and the Phillies were on their way to a 5-0 win over the San Diego Padres and a sweep of the team with the best record in the National League.

Sweeney remembered a friendly conversation with Durbin before the game.

“I played with him in Kansas City when he had 140 RBIs,” Durbin said. “I know the guy can barrel a baseball, and he will. I gave him a hard time earlier because he beat that ball out at first [Saturday] to give us a run. I said, ‘Hey, no more beating balls out at first. Let’s get some over the fence.’ ”

Consider it done. In the seventh inning, Sweeney hit his first home run since May 26.

“Hey, whatever motivates him,” a grinning Durbin said.

Sweeney’s home run gave Hamels a three-run lead and secured him, finally, a victory. The sweep, which handed the Padres their first four-game losing streak of the season, came after four straight losses to middling Houston. Care to explain, Charlie Manuel?

“I can’t,” the manager said. “I absolutely can’t. No sense in me trying. I don’t know.”

The five runs were more than the Phillies had scored in Hamels’ previous four starts combined (four runs). He won for the first time since July 11 despite a 2.47 ERA since the all-star break.

With friends and family in the stands at Petco Park, the native San Diegan pitched eight shutout innings, striking out six and walking none.

“I’m just happy to win,” Hamels said.

Did it feel like it had taken forever?

“No,” Hamels said. “I’ve been able to go out game after game and put together good innings and good games. It was just a matter of time.”

The lefthander needed 50 pitches to navigate the first two innings, but after that the script followed a typical Hamels start. He put up zero after zero while his teammates kept the opposition in the game, scoring just one unearned run in the first six innings.

With two outs in the seventh, Jayson Werth walked. That brought Sweeney to the plate.

Sweeney had started the game at first base – just his second start in nine games – only because Manuel decided that Ryan Howard needed a day of rest. Howard is hitting .121 (4 for 33) since coming off the disabled list Aug. 21 after recuperating from a sprained ankle.”

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