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News » Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-23

Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-23

Brewers-Phillies Preview 2009-04-23
Cole Hamels was the 2008 World Series MVP while leading the Philadelphia Phillies to their first championship in nearly three decades. All he's been so far in 2009, is the biggest disappointment on a struggling pitching staff.

Perhaps facing the Milwaukee Brewers will help turn him around.

Hamels' dominant postseason run began with a nearly unhittable outing against Milwaukee, a performance he'll hope to channel Thursday afternoon in the decisive third game of the Phillies' series with the visiting Brewers.

Hamels (0-1, 11.17 ERA) was one of the best pitchers in the NL during the 2008 regular season, but cemented himself as an ace in the postseason, when he went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA to guide the Phillies (6-7) to their first World Series title since 1980.

His best performance in the playoffs was his first, when he limited the Brewers (5-9) to two hits and a walk while striking out nine over eight innings of a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the NL division series.

Hamels, though, experienced elbow tightness during spring training, and though team doctors found no damage, he's looked like a different - and far less effective - pitcher. The left-hander gave up seven runs over 3 2-3 innings in a loss at Colorado on April 10, then gave up five runs - including three homers - over six innings Friday against San Diego, not factoring in the decision of an 8-7 loss.

"Today was a really good awakening," Hamels told the Phillies' official Web site after Friday's outing. "I was working as hard as I could the past seven days, trying to get my mechanics right and trying to go up there with the focus that this is real, these games matter. I need to go out there and do my job."

Manager Charlie Manuel, concerned about his ace's lack of velocity in his first start, saw more life on Hamels' pitches.

"He definitely improved," Manuel said. "When he gets better command, he'll be all right."

Hamels is far from the only pitcher struggling to get outs on the Phillies' staff, which has a 6.34 ERA overall and a major-league worst 7.26 from the rotation. Joe Blanton gave Philadelphia a quality start Wednesday, but Mike Cameron's two RBIs were enough to lift the Brewers to a 3-1 win.

The Phillies had averaged 6.8 runs in their previous eight games.

Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and the rest of the Philadelphia lineup may have an easier time against Dave Bush (0-0, 5.40). Utley is 4-for-9 (.444) with a homer versus the right-hander, while Howard is 5-for-14 (.357) with two home runs.

Bush hasn't picked up any decisions in two outings, but he's delivered a pair of quality starts. He gave up three runs and seven hits over six innings Friday in Milwaukee's 5-4 loss to the New York Mets.

All three runs Bush allowed came in the first inning.

"Two of the runs could have been avoided," manager Ken Macha told the Brewers' official Web site. "Other than that, he comes out and pitches five shutout innings."

No-decisions have been the norm for Bush when he's faced the Phillies. He's yet to win or lose a game in six career starts, the latest Sept. 14 in Philadelphia, when he allowed three runs over six innings in a 7-3 Brewers loss.

Bush has given up 10 homers in 33 2-3 career innings against Philadelphia.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 23, 2009

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