Tough-luck trend continues for Hamels
Giants' well-placed hits, lack of run support plague Phils lefty
SAN FRANCISCO -- Three pitches, all precisely where Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels intended to put them.Three RBI singles for the Giants, who scored a crucial 3-0 win over Hamels and the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
"You're going to get lucky a few times with guys hitting it right at guys," Hamels said. "And then sometimes you make the right pitches and they're able to find the hole."Count Tuesday's outing in the latter category. Hamels was charged with three earned runs on five Giants hits, four of them singles, with one walk and eight strikeouts. He retired the first nine Giants hitters in order, with only two balls hit past the infielders, but allowed two runs in the fourth inning to snap his postseason scoreless innings streak at 12. He lost for the first time on the road in the postseason, falling to 4-1, and he lost for the first time in his career in the NLCS, falling to 3-1. But it's not as if the 26-year-old southpaw was hit around. Take the fourth inning, when Edgar Renteria's opposite-field single dropped in front of Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth for the Giants' first hit. Renteria advanced on a bunt before Hamels struck out Buster Posey, but Giants left fielder Pat Burrell followed with a walk that came back to bite Hamels. That brought up Cody Ross, the red-hot San Francisco right fielder who had homered in three straight postseason games. Ross burned both Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in the series on fastballs down and in, so Hamels stayed away. His 2-1 fastball to Ross was low and on the outer half of the plate.
Ross hurts Hamels again
"Right where I wanted it," Hamels said.Ross deposited it into left field for what proved to be the game-winning hit. "He's been battling and hitting pitches that most normal people can't hit," Hamels said. "If he can hit that through the regular season, we'll be very impressed, but that's what happens when guys are hot -- they can hit anything. ... I don't know too many guys that can lift that up over a third baseman; most guys normally hit it into the ground. "You have to tip your hat. That's kind of the way baseball plays out sometimes." Ditto for Aubrey Huff, who followed Ross and hit another low-and-away pitch -- this one a changeup -- through the hole between first and second base. It hit the tip of Chase Utley's glove as he tried to make a sliding stop. Utley was involved again in the fifth inning, when the Giants extended their lead to 3-0. With two outs, Hamels jammed Freddy Sanchez with an inside fastball. Sanchez hit a knuckler toward second base, where Utley tried to field it on a hop, but watched it spin away off his glove and into center field while Aaron Rowand scored. Initially, Utley was charged with an error. The call was later changed to a hit. "It's a game of inches," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "You're looking at a 1-0 game there." Instead, it was 3-0.
"At first, I thought I was going to be able to catch it," Utley said, "and when I realized I wasn't, I tried to keep it in front of me. It shot off in a hurry to the outfield."Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins could understand Utley's trouble fielding that jam shot. Rollins has seen plenty of those himself. "It just kicked off to his right side," Rollins said. "It's kind of like, 'Hang with 'em.' When you make a decision to go get it, you have to go get it. And when you make the decision to hang back, you have to find a way to keep it in front of you. But sometimes, especially when you're not at your own field, you're not sure what the ball is going to do. That ball just got away from him." The tough luck continued a trend for Hamels, a poster boy for why wins and losses don't matter in evaluating a pitcher. Hamels was 12-10 despite a stellar 3.06 ERA. Of the 45 NL pitchers who qualified for the ERA title, Hamels ranked 37th in run support. If Hamels pitches again in the series, it would most likely be in a Game 7. Hopefully, the Phillies' offense will have gotten going by then. Philadelphia's hitters were limited to three hits by Giants starter Matt Cain and two relievers in Game 3. "In order to win a game, you have to score some runs, too," Hamels said. "I think that was the situation -- Matt Cain pitched a phenomenal, phenomenal game. It's one of those games where it's very enjoyable to be able to pitch against a guy like that, just because it's a challenge. "You have to battle every pitch. And I think that kind of keeps the intensity up. Unfortunately, when a guy has that game, the first person that really makes that one mistake or gives up that one run is pretty much going to lose. That's what happened today."