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September 19, 2009

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Hamels fans 10 as Phillies down Nats

COLE Hamels continued his strong recent form to guide the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Philadelphia's pitchers had allowed just one run in their last three games and Hamels provided another strong effort over eight innings to give the National League East-leading Phillies (85-60) their fifth-successive victory.

Hamels took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Mike Morse led off with a ground-ball single. The left-hander struck out 10 to post his third win in the last four decisions.

"You have to tip your hat to him," Nationals catcher Josh Bard told reporters after going 0-for-2 at the plate.

"Obviously, it's frustrating. He was throwing all three pitches when he wanted to. He threw the ball about as good as I've seen him throw it."

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins had two hits for the Phillies, and drove in the opening run in the fifth with a double.

Philadelphia scored two more runs in the sixth, the first when Carlos Ruiz was walked with the bases loaded. Hamels then drove in the second of the innings with a single into left field.

Elijah Dukes recorded two hits along with an RBI single for Washington, who have the worst record (50-96) in the majors. Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler struck out six batters and allowed one run in five innings before Philadelphia took advantage of the visitors' under-performing bullpen.

Detwiler, a rookie left-hander was making his first start since July and fell to 0-6 on the year.

Hamels had his own struggles early in the year with minor elbow and shoulder injuries, but the reigning World Series MVP appears to be peaking just as the post-season nears.

"I think it's being able to go out there, knowing what's at stake," Hamels said. "I think anytime September rolls around, and fortunately enough I've been here when we've had to win every game. You still have to go out there (and do it)."

The left hander has allowed just one run apiece in his last two starts, a good sign for the Phillies who lead their division by 7-1/2 games and appear headed for their third straight division crown.

Elsewhere, it was: Braves 7, Mets 3; Brewers 7, Cubs 4; and Reds 3, Marlins 2.

Lead protected

In the American League, Howie Kendrick homered and went on to break a ninth-inning tie, and Brian Fuentes protected the lead as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3.

One night after Fuentes presided over a collapse with two outs in the ninth, he helped the Angels snap the Red Sox's seven-game winning streak and hand them their first loss at Fenway in 11 games. Kevin Jepsen (6-3) got four outs, then Fuentes got the last two batters to earn his 42nd save and end Los Angeles' three-game losing streak.

Billy Wagner (1-1) walked Juan Rivera to lead off the ninth, then pinch-hitter Reggie Willits sacrifice bunted him to second.

In other action, it was: Royals 9, Tigers 2; Rays 3, Orioles 0; Mariners 4, White Sox 3, 14 innings; and Athletics 5, Indians 2.


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