Cole Hamels said there was nothing special about holding his hometown San Diego Padres to four hits on Friday night.
Fans in two full sections at Petco Park thought otherwise, giving Hamels a standing ovation as he walked off the mound after the eighth inning in the Philadelphia Phillies’ 2-0 win over the punchless Padres.
”It’s just another place. Nicer weather,” said Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP who went to San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High School.
”I like pitching in any ballpark,” Hamels said. ”Truly, I pitch well in small ballparks, big ballparks, good weather, bad weather. It’s just coming out and trying to get the team. It’s not necessarily how big the ballpark is, it’s who you’re facing. I’ve been able to do well against certain teams, and the Padres are on that list. Thank God Adrian left.”
That was a reference to three-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez, who was traded from San Diego to Boston in December.
The Phillies handed San Diego its second straight shutout and third in five games.
Hamels’ fine performance was the second straight by Philadelphia’s sensational staff against the weak-hitting Padres. On Thursday night, Roy Oswalt and three relievers combined for a four-hit, 3-0 win.
The Padres have gone 21 scoreless innings since Wednesday night’s win in a split doubleheader at Chicago. San Diego has been shut out a major league-leading six times in 20 games. It was Philadelphia’s major league-leading fifth shutout.
”No matter when you face them, you are going to be in for it,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. ”You have to be on your game to score runs against these guys. Runs are hard to come by.”
After the Padres face Joe Blanton on Saturday night, they will go up against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
”It was fantastic,” manager Charlie Manuel said about Hamels’ performance. ”It was really good.”
Hamels threw 126 pitches, one short of his career-high. Hamels retired Jorge Cantu for the final out of the eighth inning with a runner on first. Had Cantu reached base, Manuel would have lifted Hamels.
”Where he was at with the pitch count and everything like that, I definitely wasn’t going to let him lose the game,” Manuel said.
Hamels ”was mixing all his pitches,” Cantu said. ”He was pitching backward, right at you, one in, one out, you name it. He pitched a great game.”
Hamels (2-1) got all the support he needed when Ryan Howard hit a two-run triple off Clayton Richard (1-1) with two outs in the third.
Hamels struck out eight and walked three.
Ryan Madson pitched the ninth for his first save.
Hamels also had two singles. His first came in the third, but he was caught off the bag for the first out, so he wasn’t on board when Howard hit his booming triple into the gap in right-center. Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco were on base after drawing consecutive walks and advancing on Clayton Richard’s wild pitch.
”That didn’t turn out too well,” Richard said of the slider to Howard. ”He put a good swing on an average pitch. I don’t think it was a terrible pitch but he did a good job with it.”
Richard said it was just as frustrating to walk the batters ahead of Howard.
”Great hitters like him, they’ll get their doubles, triples, their home runs,” he said. ”It’s minimizing the damage before that.”
The Phillies have won nine straight and 13 of 14 at Petco Park since the 2008 season.
The Padres threatened in the second when Ryan Ludwick walked and Cameron Maybin doubled with one out. After Hamels struck out Will Venable, Alberto Gonzalez was intentionally walked before Richard lined out to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Richard allowed two runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked four.
NOTES: Padres 3B Chase Headley didn’t start because of an illness but he entered during a double switch in the top of the eighth. … Padres OF Chris Denorfia was sidelined by a strained groin.