The Phillies will only be favorites to reach the World Series for the third time in the last four years if their rotation of aces is intact when the postseason begins. An important ingredient in that winning recipe is the only guy in that rotation sporting a World Series winner's ring.
In his first start since complaining of shoulder inflammation August 12, Cole Hamels easily fell back into ace-mode in the Phillies' 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday at Great American Ball Park. Hamels, who was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, retired the first nine batters he faced.
Hamels, who was activated from the disabled list before the game, allowed one run on two hits. He struck out seven and walked none in six innings.
"I felt really good making pitches early," Hamels said. "Just being able to locate, that was a good sign."
The only run Hamels allowed came as a result of a botched play. Brandon Phillips became the first baserunner to reach off Hamels when he hit a long flyball to right field that Hunter Pence misplayed, falling to the ground after overrunning the ball. The play was ruled a triple.
Hamels retired the next three batters, but a groundball out easily scored Phillips from third. Following the triple, Hamels retired six straight.
From the first inning through the fifth, Hamels sent 15 of 16 hitters back to the dugout.
"He was good, very good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He did a heck of a job."
Since Hamels was coming off a long layoff, his outing was cut short at six innings and 76 pitches. Although he didn't get credited with the win since he left a 1-1 game, Hamels stayed unbeaten at Great American Ball Park. In six career starts in Cincinnati, Hamels is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA.