Hamels has experienced some of the worst run support in baseball over the past season and a half, but he at least left the ballpark in better spirits when Reid Brignac hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning for a 3-0 victory over the Padres. It marks the first time the Phillies have won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak May 17-20.
"I'd like to win them all, and I'd like for my teammates and fellow starters to win all their starts, too," said Hamels, whose 3.52 run-support average ranked 153rd out of 178 pitchers in baseball since the beginning of last season. "But hopefully we can get into a rhythm and get a streak going. … I just want them to know they can count on me to go out there and give them something to play behind."
Hamels allowed five hits and a walk with a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings. It was the 26th double-digit strikeout game of his career, which moved him past Hall of Fame right-hander Jim Bunning for third place on the franchise list.
Only Steve Carlton (70) and Curt Schilling (48) have more.
Hamels has not allowed a run in 16 2/3 consecutive innings, dating to his final inning in a June 1 start against the Mets. He has a 0.40 ERA (one earned run in 22 2/3 innings) in three starts this month and a 1.78 ERA (10 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings) in his past seven starts.
The Phillies are 3-4 in those starts.
"To pull it out was huge because of the way Cole pitched," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "To not have that go as a loss, that was huge. Cole was outstanding. You don't want to waste an effort like that. So for the guys to rally there and pull it out and have a couple wins in a row, it can be big for us."
Hamels threw 125 pitches in each of his previous two starts, but he said he lobbied to pitch on his regular day rather than Thursday, when he was originally scheduled to pitch because of a team off-day this past Monday. Hamels has always been someone who loves staying in a routine, and the results have shown recently.
"I like staying on the fifth day," he said. "I have been feeling comfortable and confident with the workout programs I have. I have everything pretty wired in, so I want to stick to that and not change things. I don't want an extra day now, because there's no need. I'm happy that when I lobbied for it they gave it to me. I'm going to stick to the five days and run as long as I can with it."
Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively through eight innings. But then Padres right-hander Nick Vincent walked Domonic Brown with one out and hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch to put runners on first and second in the ninth.
Brignac hit a 2-0 cutter to right field for a three-run homer.
"It was something that me and Hendu [hitting coach Steve Henderson] had talked about before the at-bat," Brignac said of Vincent's cutter. "The first two he threw in the at-bat were balls, and he left the third one up a little bit."
It was Brignac's second walk-off hit this season -- the first came in the 14th inning on May 30 against the Mets -- and the second walk-off homer of his career. He previously hit a walk-off homer Sept. 13, 2010, against the Yankees, which gave the Rays a half-game lead in the American League East.
Hamels worked out of a couple of jams early in the game, but it should not have been a surprise that the Padres did not score. First, Hamels is on a roll. Second, the Padres have struggled to score all season.
San Diego entered the night having averaged just 3.08 runs a game with a .622 OPS, both of which ranked last in baseball. The Padres are on pace to average fewer runs per game than any team in baseball since 1972, when the Angels (2.93), Rangers (2.99) and Indians (3.03) each averaged fewer. San Diego's .276 on-base percentage is on pace for the worst in baseball since the 1910 White Sox (.275).
Combine San Diego's struggles offensively and Hamels' career success against his hometown team -- 8-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 14 career starts against the Padres entering Wednesday, including 5-0 with 1.47 ERA in his past six starts -- and it seemed as if it were a night tailor made for the Phillies.
"He's the true winner in this game," Brignac said of Hamels.