Philadelphia's bats come alive against Arizona
PHOENIX – Philadelphia had the pitching, not the hitting in the opener. Second game, they had hitting, no pitching.
Facing their first sweep in the desert in nearly four years, the Phillies got the hitting and the pitching to inch closer toward their winningest opening month ever.
Cole Hamels pitched seven solid innings after being padded to an early lead and the Phillies kept swinging on their way to an 8-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
"Anytime you hit, you feel good about yourself," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Philadelphia didn't do it in the opener, shut out to spoil Cliff Lee's solid start. The Phillies banged out five runs the second game, but still lost because Roy Oswalt wasn't quite right.
In the series finale, Jimmy Rollins keyed a big first inning with an RBI double and Ben Francisco knocked in two more with another double. Rollins later hit a two-run homer, and Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard also hit solo shots.
Placido Polanco continued his torrid start to the season, getting four of Philadelphia's 12 hits and scoring three runs to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
That was more than enough for Hamels (3-1), who pitched the Phillies to their 16th win in April, one short of the team record set in 1993.
"Coming away with a win for us today was good, just for the fact that we came out of the gate quick," Hamels said.
Hamels and the hard-hitting Phillies never gave the Diamondbacks much of a chance at the sweep.
Philadelphia roughed up starter Joe Saunders (0-3) early and tagged Arizona's bullpen, providing enough cushion to absorb Chris Young's two-run homer in the sixth inning off Hamels and solo shot off Antonio Bastardo in the eighth that cut Philadelphia's lead to 7-4.
Howard pushed the lead back to four with a towering leadoff homer in the ninth to center field off J.J. Putz.
"You are not going to pitch good in every game," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Give them some credit. They put some good swings on us and hit good pitches as well. We kept fighting and had opportunities, but they shut us down when it counted."
Philadelphia came into the series on a five-game winning streak and looked to extend it with Lee and Oswalt lined up to face the struggling Diamondbacks.
Those two couldn't get it done, leaving it up to Hamels to avoid the sweep.
The left-hander wasn't quite as dominant as his shutout against the Mets on Friday, but was good enough against the Diamondbacks.
Hamels gave up an RBI double to Melvin Mora after a leadoff walk in the second inning, then retired the next 10 batters before pinch hitter Juan Miranda led off the sixth with a triple. Young hit the next pitch out to left for a two-run homer, cutting Philadelphia's lead to 6-3.
Hamels came back out to finish off the seventh after allowing three runs on four hits, picking up the win Philadelphia hoped to get from Lee and Oswalt.
"I don't necessarily think it was a pick up," said Hamels, who threw 100 pitches for the fourth straight start. "You're not going to have good games all the time, but just knowing these are some of the best pitchers in the game and you have to go out and pick up your end of the bargain."
The Diamondbacks won the series' first two games behind solid outings from Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, and were hoping for another from Saunders, who allowed a run on two hits in six innings of a no-decision against the Mets on Friday.
They didn't get it.
Hit hard almost from his first pitch, Saunders gave up three straight hits to open the game and three runs in the inning, on a run-scoring double by Rollins and Francisco's two-run, ground-rule double.
Victorino hit a two-out solo homer in the second and Rollins lifted his first homer to left off Saunders in the fifth, a two-run shot that put the Phillies up 6-1.
Saunders lasted 5 2-3 innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits.
"You have to keep your head up, turn the page and get ready for next time because I don't think I am pitching that bad," said Saunders, who has lost his last four decisions, dating to last season. "It is just the results aren't there yet. I am going to go home, sacrifice a live chicken and turn this thing around."
NOTES: Phillies C Carlos Ruiz left with lower back tightness after a flyout in the first inning and was replaced by Brian Schneider. ... Arizona LF Ryan Roberts was 0 for 4, ending his streak at 13 games of reaching base safely. ... Philadelphia is 9-0 in day games and has won all eight of its series finales in 2011.