Hamels, Phillies aim to avoid 4-game sweep by Giants

( - Cole Hamels looks to even his season record on Thursday afternoon when the Philadelphia Phillies try to avoid getting swept in the conclusion of a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants.

Hamels has posted a 2.83 earned run average over 17 starts, but is just 4-5 on the year despite going unbeaten in his last three outings. He won a second decision in a row as he opened the second half on Saturday with a 2-1 triumph over Atlanta.

The southpaw gave up one run on four hits over seven innings, striking out nine without issuing a walk. In fact, Hamels did not allow his first hit in the game until there were two outs in the fifth inning.

"I thought he had an opportunity to throw a no-hitter the way his stuff was," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said of Hamels. "He was throwing his cutter well. His fastball was good."

The 30-year-old Hamels has put up good numbers over his career against the Giants, going 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 meetings. He has thrown three complete games against them, including one shutout.

San Francisco counters with veteran Tim Hudson, who picked up his first victory since June 12 with a 5-3 decision over Miami on Saturday.

Hudson snapped a four-decision skid, allowing one run over 7 1/3 innings. It marked the third time in four outings the righty yielded two runs or fewer, though manager Bruce Bochy still opted to take him out after just 81 pitches.

"I always try to give Huddy a break when I can," Bochy told his club's website of pulling the 39-year-old. "He had gone far enough. His pitch count was good, he was in the eighth inning and I didn't want him to have a stressful inning."

Hudson is 8-6 with a 2.78 ERA on the year and comes into this meeting 11-9 lifetime versus the Phillies with a 3.72 ERA.

After combining for 26 runs in the first two games of this series, neither the Giants or Phillies were able to plate a run through the first eight frames of Wednesday's meeting. However, Philadelphia blinked first as San Francisco's Hunter Pence stroked a three-run double in the ninth inning off Jonathan Papelbon in a 3-1 triumph.

Pence's hit gave San Francisco its sixth victory in seven games and a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. It also made a winner of starter Madison Bumgarner, who struck out six over eight innings.

"What a job (Bumgarner) did," Bochy said. "He gave us everything we needed and more."

Santiago Casilla took over in the ninth and notched his seventh save of the season despite giving up Marlon Byrd's RBI single.

A.J. Burnett threw eight innings for the Phillies, who lost their fourth game in a row and seventh in their last eight. He allowed only four hits and struck out six, but also walked four batters.

"The goal of the offense is to get a guy to third base and get him to score," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. "That was the difference tonight. We weren't able to do that."

By failing to do so, the Phillies are in danger of getting swept in four games at home versus the Giants for the first time since July 31-Aug. 3, 1998.