Phillies ace Cole Hamels almost pulled a Don Larsen, but 8 innings of two-hit ball in Game 1 of the National League Division Series was good enough. Philadelphia took the opener 3-1 against the Milwaukee Brewers earning its first postseason victory since Game 5 of the 1993 World Series. Hamels got his run support in the third off of a 2-run double by MVP candidate Chase Utley that squeaked off the glove of outfielder Mike Cameron. Hamels struck out 9 batters, including setting down 14 in a row to begin the game. He had a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings before a Corey Hart single ended the bid.
In case you're wondering, Curt Schilling won that Game 5 start in 1993 while going the distance on a five-hit shutout.
Hamels' opponent, Yovani Gallardo, held serve over his four innings of work but he was no match for the Phillies' phenom.
Closer Brad Lidge, though, was a much different story. The recent recipient of the NL Comeback Player of the Year with a perfect save season (41-for-41) almost gave it all away. With flashbacks of his blown save in Game 5 of the 2005 NL Championship Series when he gave up a 3-run homer to Albert Pujols (a ball that many believe still has not come down), Phillies fans were understandably on the edge of their seats. After a single by Ray Durham and an RBI double by Ryan Braun that cut the lead to two, Lidge struck out Prince Fielder but walked JJ Hardy. With two outs, the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Lidge finally ended the game with a strikeout of Corey Hart and the Phillies breathed a sigh of relief, at least for now.
Game 2 is tomorrow with Brewers ace CC Sabathia attempting to earn a split with games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee for the first postseason games in the city since the Reagan administration. Philadelphia will counter with second half surprise Brett Myers.