After the Philadelphia Phillies were swept by the Washington Nationals this past weekend, it was hard to believe that they would be able to go into their three game series with the Atlanta Braves with any type of hope. The Braves were in first place and essentially running away with the NL East, leading the second place Nationals by 14.5 games coming into this evening’s game. That is, before the Phillies and Cole Hamels shut the Braves down, 5-1.
Tonight, the team with a 40-16 home record was nearly shut out, at home, by the team who hadn’t won on the road in their last 11 tries. Go figure. Cole Hamels (complete game, 9 strikeouts) and Cody Asche (three run home run) went against the grain, helped the Phillies shatter expectations, and take down the red-hot Braves Monday night. And to top it off, the win marked manager Charlie Manuel’s 1,000th as a big-league manager.
Facing Braves starter Julio Teheran, the Phillies didn’t quite explode offensively. However, starting pitcher Cole Hamels was channeling his vintage, former Cy Young-candidate self Monday in Atlanta. Following a 90-minute rain delay, the game began with Hamels dealing from the mound – drawing swings, misses, and getting strikeouts. His signature changeup was as good as it gets this evening, helping him strike out 9 hitters in his first complete-game effort of 2013.
The Phillies showed their first signs of offensive life in over ten innings beginning in the third, following a triple than none other by Hamels himself, who shot one in the gap that was just out of the reach of Braves outfielder B.J. Upton. Jimmy Rollins would follow, and would bring Hamels in for a 1-0 Phils lead.
Both pitchers looked good and shut down the opposition until the 6th inning, when Braves’ starter Julio Teheran ran into some trouble. It began with a Chase Utley single, and escalated when Teheran nearly hit Darin Ruf in the head with a wild pitch, putting Ruf on base. Cody Asche then stepped to the box and crushed a pitch beyond the right field wall for his second home run of the year, a three-run shot that put the Phillies up 4-0.
The Phillies would add another run in the top of the 9th inning, after a Cody Asche single and stolen base. Carlos Ruiz picked up his 14th RBI, driving Asche in for a 5-0 lead. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson would ruin the shutout for Hamels, with an RBI ground rule double with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. However, it still turned out to be Hamels’ first complete game victory of the season.
The Phillies move to 53-65 with their first road win since July 19th – 11 games ago – and the Braves, who are 9-1 in their last 10 games, fall to 72-47 – still 14 games up in the NL East race. The two teams will do battle once again tomorrow night, as Phillies’ rookie Ethan Martin takes on the Braves’ Kris Medlen.
Philadelphia – Cole Hamels, Starting Pitcher – CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K; Batting: 1-2, 3B, R, BB
Philadelphia – Cody Asche, Third Base – 2-4, HR (2), 3 RBI, 2 R, SB
It was reported just before tonight’s game that injured Phillies starter Roy Halladay will go out on a rehab assignment starting on Thursday. General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said that Halladay may need “as few as two rehab starts” before returning to the Phillies. It is reasonable to expect Halladay back at the end of the month.
Outfielder Laynce Nix has been released by the Phillies. He declined his option to Triple-A Lehigh Valley last week, and was therefore released from the organization today.
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