Hamels Guts Marlins, But Leaves Early... Plus: A Five-Homer Night for Phils

Hamels Guts Marlins, But Leaves Early... Plus: A Five-Homer Night for Phils

Cole Hamels dominated, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Dom Brown went yard, and the Phillies took game one of their four game series against Florida Marlins by a final of 9-1. However, just when it felt like they were on top of the world, Hamels left the game in the eighth inning with an apparent back issue.

For about an hour or so, it seemed things might not go the home team's way on Tuesday night. Viewers were treated to a sixty minute block of The Charlie Manuel Show while the start of the game was delayed by rain. Then once the action finally got underway, the Marlins grouped together a couple of quick singles off Cole, and were able to jump out to a 1-0 first inning lead on a softly hit ball up the first base line.

The threat would not last very long.

Home Run Derby
Howard got to Phillies' punching bag Chris Volstad right away, going to opposite field to take a 2-1 lead from which they would never look back. It was Howard's seventh career home run in 25 official at bats against the Florida righty.

But the offense wasn't finished. The Phils notched their first five-dinger game of the season, with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins each adding two-run blasts of their own, and Domonic Brown grabbing a table for one—twice. Brown's second found its way into Citizen Bank Park's 200 level with ease.

Four of the five bombs came off of Volstad, who is now 0-6 over his last nine starts versus the Phils. He lasted 5.2, perhaps in a futile effort to preserve the bullpen for tomorrow's double header.

The Phillies previously had not hit four home runs or more in a game this season.

Hamels Dominant, But...
While the recent offensive surge is certainly something to talk about, undoubtedly aided in large part by the red hot Utley, the real story of the game was once again Hamels. Once the Phillies took back the lead in the first, the game's outcome was never in jeopardy.

The win is Cole's ninth, tied for the most in baseball. He settled in nicely after the two Marlins singles that led to their lone run, retiring 17 consecutive batters between the first and sixth innings. That stretch could have been even longer were it not for a Howard error, his first of the season.

Again, Hamels did exit prematurely in the top of the eighth after issuing a walk to Wes Helms. With a huge lead in tact, the staff opted not to take any chances and pulled him at the first sign of discomfort, so there is no way of knowing how serious it is or not at this point. The team announced Hamels had "tightness in his middle back."

David Herndon replaced Hamels, throwing scoreless eighth and ninth frames.

As we mentioned pregame, Hamels may have been a little lost in the shuffle before the season began. Regardless of who throws where in the rotation or who reporters and fans pay the most attention to, there is no debating that King Cole is looking like one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball of late.

We can only hope his injury anything that sets him back or causes him to miss much if any time.

Are They Back?
The other take-home from tonight is the continued emergence of the offense. We don't want to get too excited, as the recent increase in production came against the lowly Cubs, and tonight at the expense of Volstad, whom they routinely pummel.

Still, with Utley beginning to come through and showing signs that his power is returning, there are some reasons to be encouraged by the last few games. It's too early to say it's all coming together for the Phils, but nights like Tuesday serve as a reminder why they are the favorites in the National League.

Photos by US Presswire, Dom Brown by AP.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).