Hamels returns from DL to face Reds

While under the threat of a hurricane, it is hard to - along with the rest of the East Coast -- got much rest over the weekend.

Hopefully the club was able to find some time to relax because tonight Philadelphia kicks off a string of 33 games over the season's final 31 days, beginning with the opener of a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

While states from South Carolina to New York braced for the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2008, the Phillies were able to play just one of their three scheduled games with the Florida Marlins, a 6-5 setback on Friday. The clubs attempted to get another one of their weekend games in on Saturday by lining up a doubleheader, but had to postpone both contests.

That forced the Phillies to schedule a doubleheader with the Marlins for Sept. 15, thus forfeiting their final off day of the regular season as they try to lock up a second World Series title in four years.

The unplanned off days have also wrecked havoc on Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee, who will now have to find a way to keep his starters fresh prior to the playoffs.

"It's just pretty hard to get guys slotted in on their fifth day, but we have got to deal with it," Dubee said. "We're not the only people dealing with it, so you just have to move and deal with it the best way you can. We'll be fine."

Dubee will give tonight's start to Cole Hamels, his first since Aug. 12 due to left shoulder inflammation, while Roy Halladay will go on Tuesday followed by Cliff Lee on nine days' rest. Vance Worley is slated to pitch Thursday's finale.

Hamels draws a favorable matchup for his return from the disabled list as he is 7-0 in his career versus the Reds while posting a 1.43 earned run average in eight meetings. He is 3-0 in four games at Great American Ball Park and that does not include his five-hit shutout to cap last season's sweep of the Reds in the National League Division Series.

The 27-year-old Hamels beat the Reds at home on May 23, allowing three runs over six innings. The left-hander is 13-7 with a 2.62 ERA in 25 games this season.

The Phillies took three of four from the Reds in that series, including an epic 19-inning victory in the third game that saw infielder Wilson Valdez become the first player to start a game in the field and earn the victory on the mound since Babe Ruth in 1921, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Philadelphia has won seven of its last eight versus Cincinnati overall in the regular season.

With the Phils set to get back on the field, Ryan Howard will continue his pursuit of a club-record sixth straight 100-RBI season. He is one shy of the century mark for the season and is 3-for-8 with a homer and four RBI in his career versus tonight's scheduled starter for the Reds, Homer Bailey.

Bailey hasn't lost since July 28, but has not factored into the decision of his past two outings. His last start came versus Florida on Wednesday and he allowed three runs on five hits, including two homers, over seven innings of a 6-5 loss in the opener of a doubleheader.

The 25-year-old righty is 7-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 16 starts this season and that includes a no-decision versus the Phillies on May 26. Bailey allowed four runs over four innings and did not pitch again in the majors for a month.

He is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four lifetime starts versus the Phils.

While Philadelphia owns a six-game lead for first place in the NL East as it hopes to secure a fifth straight division title, the Reds appear unlikely to defend their NL Central crown as they sit 13 games off the pace despite victories in four straight and 12 of 17 games. Cincinnati did move a game over .500 for the first time since July 3 thanks to yesterday's 5-4 victory over Washington.

Joey Votto's second solo homer of the game came almost five hours after his first, a walk-off shot in the 14th inning. Yonder Alonso homered to begin the ninth inning and force extra innings after the Reds allowed the Nats to score in the eighth and ninth frames, while Jay Bruce also homered.

"We had a number of chances," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, "and they had a number of chances."

Baker was ejected for the first time this season in the 12th inning.