Cole Hamels snapped his winless streak with a two-hit, complete-game shutout to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. Hamels, the MVP of last season's World Series, struck out nine batters and allowed just one walk to earn his first victory since July 28. It was the fourth shutout of his career and second of the season.
The win was the National League East-leading Phillies' (76-53) third in four games. "I really tried not to stress myself out in going out there and trying to be too good or trying to fall into those expectations," Hamels said after the game. "You have to really put things in perspective. I have a team behind me. They're there for a reason." The Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard, who has had 11 home runs in the past 18 games, drove in the game's only run with a double in the fourth inning.
Ryan Garko and Rich Aurilia recorded the hits for the Giants (72-60), who had won five of their six previous games and climbed into a tie with the Colorado Rockies in the NL wild card race. Hamels (8-8) has struggled this season, particularly in August when he went 0-3 in five starts with an ERA of 4.91. However, the left-hander looked back to his best on Tuesday, a performance that came on the back of eight shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 26.
"He's throwing the fastball again and that is making his change up better," said the Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. "He'll keep you off balance. In and out." Hamels' performance overshadowed a solid effort from the San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez, who took the loss despite striking out eight and allowing only one run over six innings. The Colorado Rockies moved to the head of the wild card rankings with an 8-3 victory at the New York Mets, while the Atlanta Braves maintained the pressure with a 4-3 win over the Florida Marlins.
The Central Division-leading St Louis Cardinals edged the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6, with home runs from Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday leading the Cardinals to victory. The Chicago Cubs kept up the heat at the top with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros. The Cincinnati Reds secured their third consecutive victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, this time with a winning margin of 11-5.
The San Diego Padres earned a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals, while the Los Angeles Dodgers edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3. In the American League, the New York Yankees tightened their grip on first place in the East Division with a 9-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The Bronx Bombers were 6-5 down at Camden Yards but responded well with Robinson Cano slugging a two-run shot off the Orioles starter David Hernandez.
Jorge Posada belted his 18th and 19th homers of the season and Nick Swisher and Eric Hinske went back to back in the seventh. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 in a match where the Rays were out of sorts for the night and produced a number of fielding errors as the teams battle for the wild card spot. The Texas Rangers clinched a 5-2 home victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Detroit Tigers had an 8-5 win over the Central Division rivals the Cleveland Indians.
Designated hitter Aubrey Huff had two hits and three RBIs in his best game since joining the Tigers. The Minnesota Twins edged the Chicago White Sox 4-3 and the West Division-leading Los Angeles Angels went down 2-1 to the Settle Mariners. * With agencies