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Hamels puts on a show as Phillies roll

The lefthander went eight innings and singled home two runs in a five-run sixth.

Hunter Pence singles in the first inning, driving in Placido Polanco with the Phillies' first run. Pence was later thrown out at home to end the inning.
Hunter Pence singles in the first inning, driving in Placido Polanco with the Phillies' first run. Pence was later thrown out at home to end the inning.Read more

PHOENIX - It was time for these Phillies to go home, and no matter how this trip started, a loss Wednesday would have made for a quiet cross-country flight to Philadelphia.

"We don't look at how the whole trip was," Cole Hamels said.

Ten days on the West Coast produced many lows. The Phillies clung to the fact it was still April. That's also why they will plead ignorance to the admirable task of breaking even on this season-long road trip.

The Phillies, winners of a 7-2 blowout over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, can relax during Thursday's day off, knowing they have scored 20 runs in their previous 19 innings of baseball. It could be much, much worse.

"Things are starting to click," Hamels said over the cacophony of an upbeat clubhouse. "It's a matter of time."

Hamels was stellar for eight innings, his only hiccup coming in the seventh. He had plenty of support. Placido Polanco reached base five times, the first time he has done that in 1,407 days. Four Phillies posted multi-hit games. The team lashed a total of 13 hits against Arizona pitching. Only two were for extra bases, but they came in bunches.

"Things started happening for us," Charlie Manuel said.

"It seems like it's contagious," Polanco said. "You see everybody taking good at-bats. Hopefully, this is a turnaround for the team."

A 9-10 record in late April is a disappointment for a team with the highest of expectations, but Manuel has tinkered with his lineup on a daily basis. The left side of his infield has been relatively nonexistent offensively. His opening-day leftfielder is already benched. A 22-year-old rookie is playing second base.

So 9-10 looks fine for now.

"We have a lot of mileage to go," Manuel said.

Hamels lowered his ERA to 2.73, but he might have delivered the crucial hit of the day. With two outs in the sixth, the bases loaded and a green light on a 3-1 count, he plopped a broken-bat single into short right. Two more runs scored, and the Phillies built an insurmountable 6-0 lead.

The lanky lefthander easily won the starting pitchers' informal hitting contest in 2011 and has juiced a few balls early in 2012. "Trying to get an early lead on Cliff [Lee]," Hamels said.

"Before that at-bat, Charlie was saying to look for the fastball, so that was ultimately what I was looking for," Hamels added. "I got it. Obviously he kind of blew me up, but I got enough of it out there."

Hamels allowed a leadoff double and then retired 18 straight before things unraveled in the seventh. Three straight Diamondbacks singled, another walked, and then Pete Orr botched what would have been an inning-ending double play.

With the tying run at the plate, A.J. Pollock bounced one to second. Orr tossed it to Freddy Galvis, who was making his first major-league start at shortstop and adeptly turned the 4-6-3 double play. Orr pounded his right fist into his glove.

Hamels, inching closer to free agency by the day, is enjoying a brilliant start to his season. He has struck out 30 while walking only three in 261/3 innings. Only two other pitchers (CC Sabathia and Shaun Marcum) have thrown more pitches causing hitters to swing and miss.

"They could have had quite a few hits today," Hamels said, "but they were hit right at guys or guys were able to run them down."

There was unintentional comedy, too. Carlos Ruiz attempted to score from first base on a wild pitch in the second inning. The ball bounced up against the railing of the Phillies dugout. Ruiz noticed no one was covering home, so he chugged toward the plate in a footrace with Arizona third baseman Cody Ransom. Ruiz didn't make it safely.

He was the second Phillies runner thrown out at home in the game's first two innings. For many nights during this road trip, that would have been catastrophic. With a competent offense, it was only a footnote.