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September 3, 2009

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Phillies' Hamels dominates Giants

ALL Cole Hamels had to do to regain his dominant form was stop trying to be too perfect.

Hamels pitched a two-hitter, Ryan Howard drove in the only run with a fourth-inning double and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 1-0 on Tuesday night. The big slugger has 11 home runs in the last 18 games.

Hamels (8-8) allowed a leadoff double to Ryan Garko in the second inning and a single to pinch-hitter Rich Aurilia to start the ninth. He struck out nine and walked one in his fourth career shutout and second this season. The left-hander extended his scoreless innings streak to 19, tying a career-best, and won for the first time since July 28 against Arizona.

"I really tried not to stress myself out and go out and not try to be too good," Hamels said. "All I can do is throw strikes and let the team behind me take care of it."

Hamels learned a valuable lesson when he got roughed up by the New York Mets' B team two weeks ago. He allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings against an injury-depleted lineup that was missing most of its regulars.

"Getting roughed up by bench guys, you have to put things in perspective," Hamels said. "I was overdoing."

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Braves 4, Marlins 3; Reds 11, Pirates 5; Cubs 4, Astros 1; Cardinals 7, Brewers 6; Rockies 8, Mets 3; Padres 4, Nationals 1; and Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3.

In the American League, it was: Rangers 5, Blue Jays 2 (first game); Rangers 5, Blue Jays 2 (second game); Tigers 8, Indians 5; Yankees 9, Orioles 6; Red Sox 8, Rays 4; Twins 4, White Sox 3; Royals 4, Athletics 3; and Mariners 2, Angels 1.

In Philadelphia, Jonathan Sanchez (6-11) was the hard-luck loser for the Giants. He allowed one run and three hits, striking out eight in six innings.

The NL East-leading Phillies (76-53) have won 15 of 20 and have a 7 1/2-game cushion over Atlanta. The Giants (72-60) fell a game behind wildcard leader Colorado.

"We got good pitching. We just got beat," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.

For much of this season, Hamels hasn't pitched like the guy who was MVP of the NLCS and World Series last October. But he was outstanding in his previous start, tossing eight scoreless innings in Philadelphia's 4-1, extra-inning win at Pittsburgh last Wednesday.

Hamels was sharp right from the start of this one, mixing a sharp fastball with his trademark changeup and an effective curve. Hamels retired 24 in a row after Garko's hit.

"When he gets going, he keeps it for a while. That's what we're looking for. He looked like the old Cole," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.


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