Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cole Hamels, Phillies sweep Reds into offseason|phillies, braves, atlanta braves, reds, sf giants

CINCINNATI — Postseason 2010 looked an awful lot like postseason 2008 for the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night.
Game 3 of the National League Division Series wasn't about a new pitching ace or an opponent's gaffes. It was about Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels, who did what he always seems to do — dominate the Cincinnati Reds.
Hamels pitched a five-hit shutout, enabling the Phillies to advance to the NL Championship Series with time on their hands. They await the winner of the San Francisco Giants-Atlanta Braves series while the Reds have the offseason to contemplate how to improve a 91-win team that reached the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
Hamels, MVP of the 2008 NLCS and World Series, has had Cincinnati's number since he made his major league debut with five innings of one-hit ball at Great American Ballpark on May 12, 2006.
Including postseason, he's 7-0 against the Reds, four of those wins at Cincinnati. In a particularly memorable outing in April 2007, he helped the Phillies recover from a 4-11 start, coming out of a team meeting to strike out 15 Reds in a 4-1 win.
"That was my first complete game," said Hamels, now 4-for-4 in playoff series clinchers. "That's something special because I don't have 50 or 60 complete games in my pocket like the other guy we have on our team."
Hamels was referring to first-year Phillie Roy Halladay, whose Oct. 6 no-hitter was the 59th complete game of his career and set the tone for Philadelphia's three-game NLDS sweep. Although Roy Oswalt was far from sharp in Game 2, the Phillies capitalized on Reds miscues to get him off the hook and roll through the series without needing a fourth starter.
Philadelphia pitching held the NL's highest-scoring team to 11 hits, a .124 average and four runs.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said the Phillies' domination had a throwback feel to it.
"Maybe it was the Baltimore Orioles with (Jim) Palmer, (Dave) McNally, (Mike) Cuellar, (Pat) Dobson," Baker said. "They pitched. They really pitched. They're a very good team.
"We kept them in the ballpark, kept their runs down. We just didn't push across many runs. We pitched well today. But Hamels pitched better."
Hamels, 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA during the regular season, struck out nine, including four in a five-batter span in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
The Phillies didn't pound the ball in the series, scoring 13 runs on 21 hits. But Chase Utley offered some pop Sunday, supporting Hamels with his 10th career postseason homer, a Philadelphia franchise record. The Phillies' other run Sunday came on a throwing error by shortstop Orlando Cabrera in the first inning.
The largest crowd in the history of Great American Ball Park— 44,599 — did have something to cheer in the ninth inning.
Brandon Phillips' leadoff single got the heart of the Reds' order to the plate representing the tying run. But Hamels got NL batting champ Joey Votto to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, then struck out former Phillie Scott Rolen on a 95-mph fastball up in the zone to end it.
Rookie fireballer Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, yielding an opposite-field double to Carlos Ruiz on a pitch that registered 105 mph on the stadium speed gun. Ruiz, who caught two shutouts in the NLDS, has reached base safely in his last 23 postseason games.

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