After gaining just two victories over his first 16 starts, Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels has found a groove and other teams have been hard-pressed to solve the three-time All-Star.
Hamels tries to win his third consecutive decision when the Phillies continue a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field Saturday afternoon.
Over his last three starts, Hamels has given up a total of four earned runs, covering 23 innings. His last defeat came June 21 to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
The Mets have certainly been tough on Hamels as evidenced by his 6-11 mark in 23 career starts against the NL East rival. That includes a 4.28 ERA.
Rookie right-hander Zack Wheeler, who has won his last two starts, counters for the Mets. He allowed only three hits and a run over seven innings at San Francisco on July 10.
This will mark the second career start at Citi Field for Wheeler, who suffered his only career loss in the Mets' 13-2 defeat against the Nationals on June 30 in Flushing.
The Phillies are over .500 for the first time in more than a month and have climbed into second place in the NL East, a half-game ahead of Washington, but 6 1/2 behind first-place Atlanta. A win today would give the Phillies their fifth straight series triumph.
Domonic Brown went 3-for-5 with a home run and was one of five Phillies with multiple hits in Friday's 13-8 thumping of Jeremy Hefner and the Mets.
The Phillies wasted no time in hanging 11 runs on the board in the first three frames. Michael Young stroked a three-run homer, John Mayberry knocked in two runs and Delmon Young ended with three hits and an RBI in the outburst.
Hefner (4-7) took the brunt of it, charged with eight of the runs on 10 hits in two-plus innings of work. New York ended with five unanswered runs, capped on David Wright's two-run homer, but the deficit was too great to overcome.
"It was execution," Hefner said. "A couple of not hard hit balls dropped in. Previously, especially in the last two months, those balls were getting caught."
The Met starter was undefeated in his previous six outings coming in, but his struggles against the Phillies continued. He owns a 13.75 ERA in six career games against the club, and Philadelphia has won seven straight in Queens.
Kyle Kendrick (9-6) served up a three-run homer to Marlon Byrd and was charged with six runs in 5 2/3 innings, but was good enough to get a win behind an offense that generated 15 hits.
Chase Utley added a two-run homer late and had three RBI for the Phillies (49-48), winners in nine of their last 12 and above .500 for the first time since June 6.
"We just have to keep it rolling. Guys are playing good right now," Kendrick said.
The Phillies are 7-3 versus the Mets this season, sweeping a three-game set in New York from April 26-28.