The Philadelphia Phillies’ recent surge has them back atop the NL East for the first time in more than three months.
Hamels is looking to set a career-high shutout streak when he takes the mound against the Florida Marlins in the finale of a four-game set Wednesday night.
Winners of consecutive NL pennants, Philadelphia (80-60) is making a surge towards a third. An 8-7 win Tuesday was the Phillies’ 10th in 13 games and moved them past Atlanta in the division chase.
Philadelphia leads the Braves by one-half game in the East after erasing a gap of seven games as recently as July 21. It’s the first time the Phillies have been alone atop the division since May 30.
“There’s a lot of baseball left,” said center fielder Shane Victorino(notes), who has five hits with one homer over the last two games. “We are where we wanted to be now. We’re in position to control our destiny.”
Giving the ball to Hamels (9-10, 3.18 ERA) could help Philadelphia increase its slight lead.
The left-hander hasn’t received much help all season, getting an average of 3.18 runs of support to rank among the lowest in the majors.
“It’s grueling,” Hamels said of pitching in so many close games. “That’s when you discover who you are and what you are capable of.”
Hamels hasn’t needed any assistance in winning his last two starts, allowing seven hits with 13 strikeouts in 15 scoreless innings. He extended his overall scoreless stretch to 18 innings Friday, when he went seven while holding Milwaukee to three hits with seven strikeouts in a 1-0 victory.
“When you know that every pitch means something and you’re able to still keep a good frame of mind and battle, you’re not going to mess up as easy,” Hamels said. “You understand that that one pitch is the game.”
That mentality has Hamels three innings shy of his career-best scoreless streak set over four starts from Aug. 21-Sept. 6, 2009. However, he’s 0-6 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts against the Marlins since beating them Sept. 22, 2006.
The right fielder is 6 for 13 with five RBIs in the series, connecting for a homer in each of the three contests. A homer Wednesday would make him the first rookie since Oakland’s Dan Johnson(notes) in 2005 to put together a four-game streak.
Stanton is hitting .382 with four homers and six RBIs in eight games against the Phillies. His 18 homers this season tie him with the New York Mets’ Ike Davis(notes) for second among rookies, one behind Tyler Colvin(notes) of the Chicago Cubs.
The left-hander beat the Braves 6-1 on Friday. He yielded one run and seven hits with six strikeouts in five innings for his first win since July 4, 2009.
Miller is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 10 games - five starts - against Philadelphia.