Cole Hamels continued his strong recent form to guide the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals on Thursday. Philadelphia's pitchers had allowed just one run in their last three games and Hamels provided another fine effort over eight innings to give the National League East-leading Phillies (85-60) their fifth successive victory.
Hamels, who was last year's World Series MVP, took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Mike Morse led off with a ground ball single. The left-hander struck out 10 to post his third win in the last four decisions. Asked about the pressure of games late in the season, Hamels said: "I think you have to enjoy it. Sometimes, the games get a little bit more meaningful. The fans know it, we know it.
"It's just going out there and doing what we know best. The fans are great and it kind of gives you that extra motivation." The shortstop Jimmy Rollins had two hits for the Phillies, and drove in the opening run in the fifth with a double. Philadelphia scored two more runs in the sixth, the first when Carlos Ruiz was walked with the bases loaded. Hamels then drove in the second of the inning with a single into left field.
Elijah Dukes recorded two hits for Washington, who have the worst record (50-96) in the majors. Elsewhere, Florida lost 3-2 at Cincinnati. The Milwaukee Brewers won 7-4 against the Chicago Cubs and, after a two-hour rain delay in Atlanta, the Braves overcame the New York Mets 7-3. The American League West leaders Los Angeles Angels had to battle for a 4-3 win away to the Boston Red Sox.
It was 3-3 in the ninth inning until Howie Kendrick's homer broke the deadlock against opponents who had won their previous seven games and are shaping well in the wild card race. An epic encounter between visitors Chicago and Seattle went into the 14th inning, before the Mariners' tenacity was ultimately rewarded with a 4-3 win. Three-run homers by Miguel Olivo and Josh Anderson, and Zack Greinke's pitching, helped Kansas City Royals to a 9-2 win over Central leaders Detroit.
Tampa Bay eased to a 3-0 victory away to East strugglers Baltimore. Oakland established a telling advantage at home to Cleveland and hung on to prevail 5-2. * With agencies