If there's a pitcher who could put a stop to the Phillies' recent woes it's Cole Hamels.
Hamels has thrown consecutive shutouts and will try to get Philadelphia back into the win column tonight in the third test of a four-game series against the suddenly surging Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Hamels tossed a five- hitter on Aug. 7 versus Atlanta, then allowed seven hits in a 4-0 win at Miami on Monday. He has 11 strikeouts and one walk in his past two outings.
The left-hander and 2008 World Series MVP is 13-6 in 23 starts with a 2.91 earned run average and 7-3 in 12 road assignments. Hamels has faced the Brewers nine times in his career -- all starts -- and sports a 5-2 mark with a 3.41 ERA against them.
"I play to win," Hamels said after beating the Marlins. "I'm not going to go out there and give up on a season that can be supposedly given up on already. I want to win every game I possibly can and start streaks right now that can transfer into next year. I think everything I do I try to make myself better. Ultimately, if it doesn't work out this year, hopefully it makes me better for next season and the season after that."
Hamels hasn't yielded a run in his last 22 innings pitched. Cliff Lee tossed three straight shutouts a year ago.
Philadelphia has lost three in a row since winning seven of 10 games and suffered a 6-2 loss last night. Vance Worley started for the Phils and was done in by a four-run fourth inning. He allowed seven hits in 4 2/3 innings to absorb the loss, falling to 6-8 on the season.
"I know I'm better than what I'm doing. I'm not catching the breaks this year, but I did give up the hit to the pitcher," Worley said. "I'm just not getting the job done with one pitch and it's hurting me. My arm is healthy enough to be out there pitching. It's fine, I'm not hurt."
Ryan Howard and Kevin Frandsen each had an RBI for the Phillies, who are 2-3 on a seven-game road trip and 12 games off the Wild Card spot in the National League. The Phillies lost the opener of this set by a 7-4 score on Thursday.
Milwaukee has ripped off eight straight wins at home and has been getting a lift from reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun. Braun entered this series in a major slump, but homered twice on Thursday and added another shot last night.
Nyjer Morgan and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo had two RBI apiece in the win, Milwaukee's third in its last eight games overall. The Brewers are 2-0 so far on a seven-game homestand and will entertain the Cubs next week. They also sit 11 1/2 games off the Wild Card lead.
Gallardo was equally impressive on the mound, as he scattered four hits and yielded one run in seven innings with nine Ks. Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless eighth and Livan Hernandez worked the ninth inning.
"(Gallardo) has been pretty good since (former brewers pitcher Zack Greinke) was traded," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't know if that's the reason why, but he been on a roll and really has done well for a while. I hope he does this the rest of the season."
The Brewers, who last lost at Miller Park on July 29 in 11 innings versus Washington, are set to hand rookie Mike Fiers the ball this evening. Fiers was blasted in his last outing on Monday in a 9-6 loss at Colorado and allowed eight runs and nine hits in only two innings of work. The setback ended a three-game winning streak and dropped him to 6-5 in 14 games (13 starts) to go along with a 2.63 earned run average.
"Those games are going to happen," Fiers said afterward. "I just have to put it behind me and get ready for my next start. Obviously, it wasn't anything close to a quality start, so I'm not happy about it. But there's nothing I can do about it now."
Fiers, a right-hander, has never faced the Phillies and is 4-3 in nine games (8 starts) at Miller Park.
Philadelphia is 3-2 against the Brewers this season thanks to a sweep back in late July and is still 7-3 in the past 10 matchups between the ballclubs.