ATLANTA -- Give Cole Hamels credit for being honest.
The left-hander pitched his first complete game of the season Monday night in beating the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, at Turner Field. The victory snapped an 11-game road losing streak for the Phillies (see Instant Replay).
It was also Charlie Manuel’s 1,000th win as a big-league skipper.
Afterward, Hamels was asked if it meant anything to him to be on the hill for his manager’s milestone win.
“I totally forgot,” the left-hander admitted.
Manuel’s pursuit of 1,000 had been buried under the rubble of the 17 losses that the Phillies had suffered in the 20 games leading up to Monday night.
“Truly, I think it hasn’t been talked about much because we haven’t been playing well, so we’ve been really just focusing on trying to win a game,” Hamels said.
A game. Any game.
“But it’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Hamels said. “It’s a huge milestone. It’s nice Charlie got that out of the way. Now we need to focus on winning two.”
After the game, the Phillies presented Manuel with a signed base emblazoned with “1,000” in red, Phillies-style numerals.
“It’s definitely quite an achievement,” Manuel said. “Like I told my players, they’re the ones that make it happen. They play. The two organizations I’ve been with, they’re the ones that get the players for me. That just goes to show you just how good they are. It’s hard for me to stand there and say I accept all of my accolades because the other people are definitely achieving those for you. That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m sure later on it probably means a lot more to me than right now. We’re still trying to win some games.”
Hamels has been the winning pitcher in 96 of Manuel’s wins.
Alerted to that fact, Manuel quipped, “That’s good. I’ll go back and thank him again.”
Having fallen out of the race in the NL East, the Phillies have to take satisfaction where they can find it.
Monday night, it came in the form of rookie Cody Asche’s three-run homer in the sixth, some strong defense in the field, and, of course, Hamels’ work on the mound.
The two teams waited through a one-hour, 48-minute rain delay before the first pitch. Once the game got going, Hamels started dealing. He allowed just six hits -- two came in the ninth inning when he lost his shutout on his 120th pitch -- walked one and struck out nine.
Despite a 5-13 record, Hamels has pitched very well of late. Since the start of June, he has a 1.98 ERA in eight starts.
Hamels has recently talked about trying to have more fun on the mound and stop worrying about forces beyond his control -- like run support. He actually helped his own cause in this game. He tripled in the third inning and scored on Jimmy Rollins’ single.
Hamels said this was probably his most enjoyable outing to the season.
“Just being able to go out and not let the little things get to you,” he said. “I stuck with my routine during the rain delay. I was able to execute pitches. When you execute pitches against good hitters, I’d say, what, eight out of 10 times, nine out of 10 times, the pitcher wins. I’m glad I was able to win because they’re a tremendous team.”
Indeed, the Braves are. They have lost just four times in the last 21 games and are running away with the NL East.
Hamels lost his bid for a shutout with two outs in the ninth. He was at 109 pitches after eight innings, but made it clear that he wanted to stay in when he grabbed his bat and helmet and got ready to hit in the ninth.
Hamels said he wasn’t disappointed to miss out on the shutout. He was just happy that the team won a game.
These are dispiriting times for the Phillies. They still have 44 games left. They need to play better than they have in recent weeks or the remainder of the season will be misery.
“I know we haven’t done it much, but we’ve got to start something,” Hamels said. “The pride that we all have, it has to be for something. There aren’t too many opportunities to play the game of baseball. It’s winding down and we better finish strong because there’s a lot of baseball in the future for a lot of guys and there’s not a lot of baseball for some guys.
“So, it’s how do you want to go out? How do you want to be remembered? It’s more fun going out as a team and ultimately trying to finish strong.”