Phillies-Giants Preview

Instead of focusing on what could be another riveting pitchers’

duel between Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, the spotlight Saturday

might be on how the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies

react after a major melee the night before.

The Phillies will be trying to extend their season-high win

streak to nine games as their four-game series against the Giants

continues in a rivalry that is gaining steam.

San Francisco (62-51) beat Philadelphia (73-39) in six games in

the 2010 NL championship series and both teams lead their divisions

this year, although the Giants are only one-half game ahead of

Arizona while the Phillies lead Atlanta by 8 1/2 games.

Another matchup in the postseason would feature plenty of

intrigue after Friday’s events in the Phillies’ 9-2 victory.

Benches cleared in the top of the sixth inning after San

Francisco reliever Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino in the back

with a pitch.

Victorino began walking toward the mound and Giants catcher Eli

Whiteside stepped in front of him. Placido Polanco raced in from

second base and was tackled by Whiteside, who along with Victorino

was ejected. Ramirez also was tossed.

“Yeah, absolutely, I think he did,” Victorino said of Ramirez

plunking him intentionally. “That’s why I took a step forward. I

had no intentions of going out there and charging the mound. I just

wanted to go out there and get an answer. … Obviously, Eli felt

like, from looking at his reaction, I was going to go. He started

jumping around. Polanco came in and he tackled Polanco. Everything

escalated from there.”

Victorino was hit after Jimmy Rollins stole second base with the

Phillies up 8-2.

“You can ask Jimmy Rollins about that,” Giants newcomer Carlos

Beltran said. “I would not have done it.”

The brawl overshadowed another stellar effort by a Phillies

starter as Vance Worley improved to 8-1 with seven strong innings.

Cliff Lee pitched a seven-hitter in Thursday’s 3-0 victory.

The Phillies are enjoying their longest win streak since an

11-game run Sept. 12-24. The Giants have dropped seven of eight,

and are trying to avoid losing three straight at home for the first

time since May 24-26.

Cain (9-7, 3.10 ERA) and Hamels (12-6, 2.62) will meet for the

second time in two weeks after the Giants starter allowed one

unearned run over seven innings in a 2-1 victory July 27 at

Philadelphia. Hamels gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings.

These starters last met at AT&T Park in Game 3 of the NLCS

as Cain gave up two hits over seven innings in a 3-0 victory.

Hamels struck out eight, but allowed three runs in six innings.

Prior to those two outings, Cain was 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA in five

starts against the Phillies. In the regular season, Chase Utley is

7 for 18 against him and Rollins 6 for 13, but each went 0 for 3

versus the right-hander in the playoffs.

Including the postseason, Hamels has posted a 4.34 ERA in losing

his last three starts to the Giants. His 6.12 regular-season ERA at

AT&T Park is his second-highest in any NL stadium behind Coors

Field.

Before this series, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel apologized

and said that his remarks were not meant to be derogatory when he

described Cain and Tim Lincecum as good but not great after the

Phillies lost to both last month. Cain will be facing the Phillies

for the first time since those comments, with Lincecum slated to

start Sunday’s finale.