Cole Hamels Helps Phillies Complete Four-Game Sweep
For the second game in a row, the Philadelphia Phillies have pulled off a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. With the win, Philadelphia also capped off their first four-game series sweep of the Reds since 1975.
And for the second game in a row, it came down to great pitching and a clutch base knock by Jimmy Rollins. It wasn't quite as dramatic as an 11th inning walk-off hit, but Rollins came through in the third inning, driving in what turned out to be the winning run.
Not surprisingly, it was Carlos Ruiz coming home from third with two outs. If anyone was doubting Rollins's impact on this lineup, they're not anymore.
But even more important than Rollins was Cole Hamels and his rough-looking-but-effective 7.2 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits, with three strikeouts and three walks, in 112 pitches.
Hamels was around the plate all day, but wasn't getting a lot of the calls and had to work himself out of a jam a couple times. He then gave way to Jose Contreras for the final out in the eighth inning with a man on second. Contreras walked the first man he faced, then forced a ground ball to get out of the inning.
Then in the ninth, a perfect combination of J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge finished off the game.
Romero came in to face first the first batter, left-hander Jay Bruce, and struck him out in four pitches. Charlie Manuel then made a decision that was unpopular with the sellout crowd at Citizen's Bank Park. Manuel took Romero out to make way for Lidge, who faced two consecutive right-handed batters.
But the crowd got behind Lidge as he struck out Drew Stubbs and got Miguel Cairo to fly out on the very first pitch, ending the game and completing the four-game sweep.
Great teams win the close games, but the Phillies bats are still a cause for concern. Four hits will not get the job done on a normal day. They've benefited from outstanding pitching the last 21 innings as the staff held the Reds scoreless. But sooner or later, this team is going to have to win with their offense.
That's how they've won in the past, and that's how they're going to have to win this season.
Hopefully Chase Utley and Placido Polanco can come back strong and this lineup can be complete for more than a couple weeks, and start making their annual late-season push.
But without a lot more offense than we've seen over the past week or so, the Phillies will struggle to stay in the middle of the pack in a competitive NL East.
But for now, it's at least good to see the Phightin' Phils back to their winning ways.
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