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All hail Old King Cole: Hamels pitches Phillies to Game 1 win

Big League Stew

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So you know how the Phillies' Cole Hamels made everything look easy during Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLDS?

Yeah, well, closer Brad Lidge somehow made everything look the exact opposite of what Hamels was doing.

Luckily for Philly manager Charlie Manuel, all's well that ends well because despite allowing Milwaukee to put the tying runs in scoring position, Lidge struck out Corey Hart to end the game, securing his 42nd save in as many opportunities this season. After watching Lidge take 35 pitches to get three outs in the ninth, that sound you heard over on Broad Street was a giant 'Whew.'

The knockout of Hart saved Manuel from the hard questions that would have come after he pulled Hamels after eight masterful innings that made it look like a complete game shutout was inevitable. The lefthander retired the first 14 Brewers to come to the plate and then sat eight in a row after allowing two Milwaukee runners aboard — his only real threat — in the top of the sixth. Hamels left the game after throwing only 101 pitches, so it wasn't as if going to Lidge was an absolute necessity.

Other bits from Game 1 ...

Brewers fans are going to be replaying the game's horrific third inning over a lot of Miller Lites. Milwaukee's first mistake came when Hamels was allowed to reach first base after a fielding error by Rickie Weeks. The second was when Chase Utley's deep drive to center turned into a two-RBI double after the ball squeezed from the top webbing of Mike Cameron's glove onto the grass below. It was a tough play for Cameron to make, but it still extended the inning and allowed the Phillies to score their only three runs of the day. Next time he'll bring some Stickum, lest Brewer fans be again reintroduced to how these postseason games are always in the details.

• There was a bright side for the Brew Crew: For as much doubt and speculation as it took over the past few days, Milwaukee's bullpen did an admirable job in spelling starter Yovani Gallardo, the recent injury returnee who went only four innings. Carlos Villanueva retired seven batters in a row and the four relievers combined to not allow any runs. The first three batters of the Phillies' order — Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Utley — were a combined 2-for-12.

One more bright spot for the Brewers: CC Sabathia will start Thursday's Game 2.

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