Jul 24, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) pitching in the 8th inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies avoid sweep behind Hamels

The Phillies didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard Thursday afternoon, but Cole Hamels lit up the radar gun to improve to 5-5 and help his team avoid a sweep against the San Francisco Giants.

That’s two straight 2-1 wins for Hamels and both have come against first-place teams.  While executives say Hamels is not up for trade discussion, it’s hard to argue he wouldn’t fetch a nice return.  He might be reaching the prime of his career seeing as his command has recently been complimented by a mid-90s fastball.  One of his pitches Thursday  was clocked at 96 miles per hour.

Not only has Hamels been looking good on the box score, he’s been looking good to manager Ryne Sandberg.

“He’s really gone with his fastball to set up his other pitches,”  Sandberg said. “He’s got everything behind him. He’s feeling very good.”

It was the second game in a row a Phillies starter went 8 innings.  Hamels walked one and allowed an earned run on six hits.  Of his 116 pitches, 90 were strikes and 26 of the 32 batters he faced saw first-pitch strikes.

“I wasn’t having to put as much effort into each pitch,” said Hamels.

Offensively Philadelphia continued to struggle with runners in scoring position and only had two extra-base hits.  They stranded nine, but Marlon Byrd knocked in the first run of the game to put the Phillies up 1-0 in the 1st and had four RBIs in the last three games of the series.

Chase Utley had an RBI base hit to score Ben Revere in the 5th and give the Phillies a 2-1 lead that would stay intact.

It didn’t come as a surprise that struggling Ryan Howard was kept out the lineup once again, but some may have been surprised to see Jonathan Papelbon going for the save.

Papelbon blew a save Tuesday night and allowed three runs in the 9th on Wednesday, but notched the 310th save of his career Thursday afternoon.

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