Cole Hamels’ only loss of the season came at home against the Miami Marlins. It was also in his first start of 2012.
Hamels gets a chance to avenge that defeat and become the majors’ first nine-game winner Saturday when the Philadelphia Phillies host the Marlins.
Hamels (8-1, 2.43 ERA) began his season with a 6-2 loss to Miami (29-23) on April 9, allowing four runs – three earned – and eight hits with nine strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings.
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He hasn’t lost since.
The left-hander is 8-0 in his last nine starts, compiling a 2.22 ERA while limiting opponents to a .210 average. He’s tied for the most wins in baseball with St. Louis’ Lance Lynn, also scheduled to start Saturday afternoon.
Hamels won his fifth consecutive start Monday, allowing four runs in eight innings of an 8-4 victory at New York. That performance came a day after teammate and two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay was lost for six to eight weeks because of a strained right shoulder.
“I’m just trying to keep the same approach that I have,” Hamels told the team’s official website. “I try to go out and win as many games as I can. I’m trying to go deep into the ballgame and, obviously, not allow as many runs.”
Hamels has reached at least the seventh inning in seven of his last nine trips to the mound, completing eight in the last two.
Another strong outing could help Philadelphia (28-25) win for the eighth time in 10 games. The Phillies continued their surge with a 6-4 victory Friday in the opener of this three-game series.
Hunter Pence had three hits and three runs in the win, including his team-leading 12th homer. He’s batting .379 with two homers, four RBIs and nine runs over the last seven games.
Pence is 9 for 16 in four games this season against Miami, helping Philadelphia win the last three matchups.
The Marlins, who had a three-game win streak snapped, will give the ball to Ricky Nolasco (5-3, 4.26) hoping he can continue his success in Philadelphia.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA in six starts there, winning four in a row while holding the Phillies to .190 at the plate. However, he hasn’t made an appearance at Citizens Bank Park since April 17, 2010, when he tossed a five-hitter in a 5-1 victory.
Nolasco hasn’t come close to being that sharp while losing three of his last four starts with a 7.06 ERA. He allowed three runs over seven innings in a 3-2 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
He’s also served up three homers on four hits by Pence, but that damage has come in 21 at-bats.
Miami’s Jose Reyes has the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 12 games after going 3 for 4 with a double Friday. He’s batting .373 with seven runs and five steals during that stretch.
The All-Star shortstop is hitting .357 (15 for 42) against Hamels.