Thanks to some clutch hitting, the Philadelphia Phillies are gaining momentum.
The Phillies will try to complete a four-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds on Sunday in the teams’ final game before the All-Star break.
Two-time reigning NL champion Philadelphia (46-40) has won the first three games of this series at Citizens Bank Park - all extra-inning affairs.
Jimmy Rollins’(notes) two-out RBI single in the 11th gave the Phillies a 1-0 win over Cincinnati (49-40) on Saturday. They outlasted Reds rookie starter Travis Wood(notes), who carried a perfect game into the ninth in a pitchers’ duel with ace Roy Halladay(notes).
“That’s why you come out and play ‘em until it’s over,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “You put everything into it.”
This is the first time Philadelphia has posted three straight walk-off wins in extra innings. The Phillies scored six times in the ninth to tie the game Friday and won on Ryan Howard’s(notes) two-run homer in the 10th. Brian Schneider(notes) hit a game-winning homer in the 12th of Thursday’s series opener.
“The last two days have been tough to take,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Perhaps the only thing that can stop Philadelphia is the All-Star break.
The Phillies’ surge has them one-half game behind second-place New York and 5 1/2 back of NL East-leading Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Reds will enter the break leading the Central for the first time since 1995.
The left-hander is 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA in six starts against the Reds, including two home wins in which he’s limited them to one run and six hits over 16 innings.
Perhaps facing the Reds will allow Hamels to enter the break on a positive note. He’s seen seven of his last eight starts result in losses, while he’s gone 1-5 with a 4.21 ERA. The offense hasn’t provided him with much help, averaging two runs of support in the seven defeats.
“I’ve had some tough games,” Hamels said. “I feel comfortable and excited for the second half.”
Hamels was solid Tuesday, allowing three runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings of a 6-3, 11-inning defeat to Atlanta.
The left-hander, who will face Philadelphia for the first time, was the hard-luck loser Tuesday, as Johan Santana(notes) threw a three-hitter and the Reds lost 3-0 at New York. Despite losing his 2010 debut hours after being recalled from Triple-A Louisville to replace Harang, Maloney was solid, allowing three runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Cincinnati is hoping Scott Rolen(notes) can return after he missed a second consecutive game with a stiff back Saturday. The third baseman, hitting .292 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs, was one of four Reds named to Tuesday’s All-Star game.
The last time each contest of a four-game set went extra innings was Sept. 16-19, 2002, in a series between Texas and Seattle.