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Hamels finds groove, notches stellar outing

Lefty benefits from early lead, attacks strike zone vs. Mets
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- When Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels emerged from the dugout to pitch the second inning of Friday night's start, he walked back onto the field to an unfamiliar sight.

The Phillies were winning.

Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- When Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels emerged from the dugout to pitch the second inning of Friday night's start, he walked back onto the field to an unfamiliar sight.

The Phillies were winning.

Full Game Coverage

After the offense combined to score a mere six runs while he was in the game in his first six starts combined, Hamels benefited from an early 1-0 lead and worked into a groove, retiring nine of the first 11 batters he faced in the Phillies' 3-1 win.

Hamels couldn't maintain the same level of performance in the fourth inning, relenting a run on two singles, two wild pitches and two walks, one of which was intentional. The lefty threw 25 pitches that inning, just under a quarter of his total for the night.

Video: NYM@PHI: Cuddyer scampers home on wild pitch

In the mind of Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, the fourth inning was just a hiccup on an otherwise smooth night for his starter.

"Cole was really in control of the game the whole night," Sandberg said. "He had the one inning in the fourth with the run scoring on the wild pitch. He got out of that. But other than that, he was in control."

Once Hamels had worked out of the bases-loaded jam in the fourth, it only took his offense one pitch to give him back the lead. First baseman Ryan Howard drilled a Matt Harvey pitch over the 387-foot marker in left-center field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Hamels never looked back, retiring the next eight batters he faced and nine of his last 10 overall.

Video: NYM@PHI: Phils reclaim lead on Howard's solo blast

Hamels said having this lead motivated him to keep his pitches in the zone, daring the Mets to beat him rather than allowing his mistakes to benefit the opponents as they did in the fourth.

"We've got a lead, so you want to make sure they earn it," Hamels said. "Not walking guys, I know that's kind of been my problem in the past. So I was just trying to go after them, and if they get on with hits, they get on with hits. I didn't really want to give them free passes."

In total, Hamels went seven innings, fanning eight Mets and allowing just four hits in a winning effort. The win improved Hamels' record to 2-3 and dropped his ERA to 3.68.

Despite the win, the day wasn't without a little bit of embarrassment for Hamels. In the home half of the fifth inning, Hamels was credited with a sacrifice bunt that moved catcher Carlos Ruiz into scoring position. Ruiz scored one at-bat later. However, Hamels didn't think his bunt attempt landed in fair territory and turned his back to the field. Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki promptly tagged Hamels out, and the pitcher walked back to the dugout confused.

Video: NYM@PHI: Plawecki tags out Hamels on bunt attempt

As aware as he was of where he was placing the ball on the mound, Hamels admitted it took him a long time to realize where that ball was.

"I think [it was] when I was walking back to the dugout," Hamels said.

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, Cole Hamels