The way the Phillies had been swinging the bats all week and the way Cole Hamels has pitched for much of the season should have been the ideal scenario last night for a team trying to extend a five-game winning streak.
But the Phillies' hitting express suffered a momentary derailment and Hamels experienced his second straight poor outing in a 7-3 loss to Florida at Citizens Bank Park that moved the Marlins back into first place in the National League East.
After averaging 12 runs and 12 hits in their previous five games, the Phillies managed three runs and six hits last night before a season-high crowd of 45,261. They went 51/3 innings without a hit, a span that ended when Chase Utley hit his major-league-high 19th home run in the eighth.
The real concern, however, was the performance of Hamels, who tied a career high by allowing seven earned runs in 52/3 innings. He has given up 13 earned runs in his last two starts.
"I'm more frustrated letting the team down, because we've been playing so well for the past week," Hamels said. "It all started with the bad game that I had [last Sunday in Houston] when we started playing well. It's just one of those things. You want to be involved, and I felt like I didn't put the team in a good enough situation to be able to compete until the last out and come away with the victory."
Hamels had allowed just six home runs in his previous 11 starts covering 761/3 innings, but he yielded three last night, two of them coming in the sixth on a solo shot by Jorge Cantu and a two-run blast by Cody Ross.
After breezing through the first three innings, facing the minimum nine batters, Hamels struggled with his location in the fourth, when the Marlins scored four runs. The first two came on a double by ex-Phillie Wes Helms, who was booed as if he were a professional wrestling villain, and the last two were courtesy of Luis Gonzalez's 350th career home run.
"His command has been a little off his last two times out," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "This is the first time I've seen his command not as good. But he'll figure it out. It's part of going through the season, and those things happen."
"I haven't really been able to throw the ball effectively," Hamels said. "I'm cutting most of my fastballs, and when you're aiming for a spot and you end up cutting it out of the zone, or it hits the corner and it cuts back to the heart of the plate, that's where the damage is done."
Other than Utley's home run, the Phillies' only bright spot at the plate was Shane Victorino, who doubled in the first and third, extending his hitting streak to 12, and came around to score both times. But the Phils mostly suffered from a case of silent bats against Florida starter Ricky Nolasco.
"You're not going to score eight or nine runs a night," Utley said. "I thought we battled a little bit .. . . But we'll forget about today and come back tomorrow."
Catcher Carlos Ruiz left the game at the end of the seventh after being hit by a pitch. The Phils said he had a bruised left hand. X-rays were negative.
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