CINCINNATI -- Cole Hamels is well spoken but he can't explain his mastery over the Cincinnati Reds.
Hamels improved to 10-0 lifetime against Cincinnati, including a shutout victory in the 2010 Division Series, by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Phillies' 8-0 win over the Reds on Friday night (see Instant Replay).
"It is hard to comprehend," Hamels said. "I just kind of associate this park and this team with good memories. Knowing when you have that matchup, even if there are different players, just gives me confidence."
Hamels made his major-league debut at Great American Ball Park and pitched five scoreless innings of one-hit baseball in that game on May 12, 2006.
"It is something you dream about as a little kid. It is a great memory and everlasting," Hamels said.
The win was just what the reeling Phillies needed after coming into the game with a six-game losing streak.
"Sometimes success against a team early in your career can last," reasoned first-year manager Ryne Sandberg, who was looking for a spark from somewhere to break the losing streak.
"We need two or three guys to step up," Sandberg said before the game.
He got them.
Veteran Chase Utley had four productive plate appearances out of five. He had three singles and was hit by a pitch.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who led the league with a 1.68 ERA coming into the game, picked Utley off first, leaving the bases empty with two outs in the fourth inning.
Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. picked their teammate and their team up.
Howard drew a walk. Byrd was also hit with a pitch but Brown delivered a big two-run double.
Brown was hitting a paltry .206 coming into the game but was hitting .333 with runners in scoring position.
"I think he has a good approach in those situations," Sandberg said. "He concentrates on hitting the other way and up the middle."
Brown believes that regular playing time will help him sustain that approach.
"I don't know if it's focus or what," Brown said. "I have been using that same approach for two weeks. It felt good to pick up my teammates. Good teams do that."
Jimmy Rollins contributed a solo home run off Cueto in the fifth inning, which was more than enough for Hamels, who scattered five hits.
The Phillies put the game out of reach with four runs in the ninth against the Reds' bullpen.
With the Phillies finding their stroke at the plate and getting a strong effort on the mound in the series opener, a trip to Cincinnati could prove to be just what the club needed ... again.
Hamels recalled another moment in Cincinnati from the 2007 season that helped turn the season around.
With the Phillies struggling as a team early that year, Hamels turned in his first career complete game on April 21. He allowed one run on five hits and struck out 15 Cincinnati batters.
"I remember the meeting that series," said Hamels of Charlie Manuel's team meeting that weekend. "I was young and didn't know what to say."
The Phillies turned the season around shortly thereafter and made the playoffs that season.
"We dug ourselves a pretty big hole this time," Hamels said of this season. "We have to keep grinding it out. It will take us a couple months."