Thursday, July 3, 2008

Three Solo Shots Power Phillies Past Atlanta

The Phillies had reason to expect a good chance of winning coming into this game, with Cole Hamels taking the mound for them, and having just taken the first two of three against Atlanta with an offense that seemed newly reinvigorated. The one potential stumbling block was that they were facing Jair Jurrjens of Atlanta, who has compiled impressive statistics this year with an ERA only slightly over three. Hamels was masterful however, and it would have taken a great deal for the Braves to manage anything better than the 4-1 score by which they lost to Philadelphia.

Chase Utley, now suddenly hitting everything after a terrible slump, began the game with a solo home run in his first at bat, and Atlanta would never be able to catch the Phillies from that point on. Hamels began impressively but not perfectly. Men reached second in the first and second innings, but he worked out of the jams and kept the Braves scoreless. The Phillies, too, squandered an opportunity as a Jimmy Rollins triple to lead off the third could not be capitalized upon.

What looked like a one-run pitchers' duel continued until the fourth, when the Phillies were able to gain an insurance run as Pat Burrell doubled, advanced, and scored on a Pedro Feliz single. All the while, Cole Hamels only seemed to be gaining strength as he put the Braves down one after another. The otherwise scant lead of two runs was, with Hamels seemingly at his best, sizable. Two further home runs by Ryan Howard in the sixth and Feliz in the seventh were nails in the coffin. They were good signs too, has Howard seems to have found his stroke more than usual, and Pedro Feliz has been on an apparent hot streak.

Hamels seemed to cruise. He worked out of a double he allowed in the eighth and looked set for a complete game shutout in the ninth, but when Chipper Jones doubled in the ninth and Brian McCann did likewise and scored him for the Braces' only run, Charlie Manuel replaced him and brought in Tom Gordon to record the last out. It is nice to see the Phillies finally combine a day of superb pitching with one of solid hitting as they defeated Atlanta 4-1 -- something they will need to do again in their upcoming games against New York.

No comments: