July 27, 2011
GIANTS (59-44) vs.
Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The first rematch of last season's NLCS was a convincing Philadelphia Phillies win. Handing the ball to Cole Hamels should give the MLB-leading Phillies a good shot at making it two straight over the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Hamels faces the Giants on Wednesday night for the first time since losing Game 3 of the NLCS, and it could be another duel against Matt Cain if a stomach illness sidelines Tim Lincecum again.
Meeting for the first time since the Giants ended the Phillies' two-year reign atop the NL with a six-game series victory, Philadelphia (65-37) improved its major league-best home record to 38-16 with Tuesday's 7-2 win.
URBAN: Series bigger for Philly than Giants
Vance Worley pitched a three-hitter, Raul Ibanez had a three-run homer and Ryan Howard, Chase Utley (inside-the-park homer) and John Mayberry each hit a solo shot.
Manager Charlie Manuel's club continues its 10-game stretch in Philadelphia with Hamels (12-5, 2.62 ERA) going for another dominant home start. The left-hander improved to 7-3 with a 2.29 ERA at Citizens Bank Park on Friday with eight innings of three-hit ball in a 3-1 victory over San Diego.
Hamels, who matched a season high with 10 strikeouts and set down the last 10 batters he faced, has given up three runs or fewer in 18 of his 21 starts.
"I've seen him develop into a pitcher who can do a lot of things," Padres manager Bud Black said. "His movement on his fastball and on his change and his command of his pitches have really improved. He's showing that being an All-Star is warranted."
Hamels is 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA in eight regular-season starts against San Francisco (59-44). In Game 3 of the NLCS, he struck out eight but allowed three runs in six innings of the 3-0 defeat.
Cain (8-6, 3.06), who threw seven innings of two-hit ball in that Oct. 19 matchup for his first career postseason victory, will get the ball Wednesday if Lincecum (8-8, 2.90) still isn't feeling well. Lincecum, 3-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 45 strikeouts in his last six starts, was scheduled to start Tuesday, but was scratched in favor of Barry Zito.
The Phillies might be pulling for Cain to get the ball. The right-hander was 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA in five starts versus Philadelphia prior to the NLCS.
Lincecum, meanwhile, is 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA in seven regular-season outings against the Phillies. The two-time NL Cy Young winner went 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts versus Philadelphia in the 2010 postseason before pitching in relief in the pennant-clinching win Oct. 23.
Utley, who has reached base safely in 28 straight games and is 10 for 20 with three homers over his last six contests, likely wouldn't mind if Lincecum takes more time to recover. Utley is just 2 for 20 with eight strikeouts against the right-hander in the regular season.
He has fared far better against Cain, going 7 for 15 with three home runs.
Howard, who reached 20 homers for the seventh consecutive season Tuesday, has six hits - including three home runs - in 19 at-bats versus Lincecum. The Phillies first baseman is 2 for 10 with two homers against Cain.
Giants outfielder Cody Ross, last season's NLCS MVP, is in the midst of a 1-for-17 slump after going 0 for 3 on Tuesday. Ross, though, is 9 for 30 with four homers off Hamels - the most the left-hander has surrendered to any batter.