Cole Hamels is used to getting little run support. It hasn’t affected his pitching.
The left-hander dominated over seven innings and the Philadelphia Phillies capitalized on a Milwaukee miscue to score the only run they would need in a 1-0 victory over the Brewers on Friday night.
Hamels (9-10) made the lone run stand, as he breezed to his second straight win and ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 18. He allowed three hits and struck out seven.
”When you know that every pitch means something and you’re able to still keep a good frame of mind and battle, you’re not going to mess up as easy,” Hamels said. ”You understand that that one pitch is the game.”
The Phillies moved to a season-best 19 games over .500 (77-58) and moved within one game of NL East-leading Atlanta, the closest they have since Aug. 6. The three-time division champs sat seven games back and in third place on July 21, and are making another late-season push.
Hamels was coming off another sparkling effort on Aug. 29 in his hometown of San Diego, when he allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings. Before that, the left-hander had gone 0-3 with five no-decisions in his previous eight outings, receiving a total of 12 runs in those starts.
”It’s grueling,” Hamels said of pitching in close game after close game. ”That’s when you discover who you are and what you are capable of.”
A Milwaukee miscommunication led to the game’s only run. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain and left fielder Ryan Braun converged on a Shane Victorino fly ball, but it dropped between them for a double, despite Braun’s last-minute lunge. Braun appeared to initially be calling for the ball, but neither outfielder took command.
”It was a tough situation,” Cain said. ”Loud crowd. He initially called it and thought I called it, so I just backed off. It was just a missed communication.”
Victorino, hustling from the instant he made contact, ended up on second. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on Carlos Ruiz’s grounder.
With the way the Phillies are playing – their 29-12 record since July 21 is the best in baseball – those are the types of breaks they get.
”It helps,” Victorino said. ”We got the winning run out of it. Then you go back to our pitching. Cole did a great job tonight. Again. Our starting pitching has been unbelievable.”
Hamels allowed only two runners to reach second base. In his final inning, Hamels walked Braun and surrendered a single to Prince Fielder, but escaped by retiring Casey McGehee, Cain and Alcides Escobar.
Jose Contreras worked the eighth and Ryan Madson worked the ninth for his fifth save in nine chances. Closer Brad Lidge was unavailable after pitching in three straight games.
The Phillies recorded their 17th shutout of the season, while Milwaukee was shut out for the 11th time. The Phillies’ 17 shutouts matched their most in a season, accomplished in 1967.
Philadelphia has posted a 2.19 ERA in the past eight games, including Thursday’s 12-11 win in Colorado.
The Phillies continued to struggle on offense. They loaded the bases in the fourth off Chris Capuano (2-3), but didn’t score when Raul Ibanez struck out and Ruiz lined into a double play.
Capuano allowed a run and four hits in five innings.
With Hamels pitching as well or better than he did during the 2008 season, when he was named the NLCS and World Series MVP, Roy Halladay having a Cy Young-type season and Roy Oswalt finishing strong, the Phillies may not need to score many runs to advance to their third straight World Series.
They should be dangerous if they make the playoffs, and the first-place Braves have to be taking notice.
”I think they’ll look at the standings,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ”I think they’ll feel us.”
NOTES: Phillies OF/1B Ross Gload (right groin strain) was reinstated from the disabled list before Friday’s game. … INF Greg Dobbs had his contract picked up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. … Brewers OF Corey Hart is 1 for 18 on the first four games of the road trip.