Hamels, Phillies blank Reds to snap losing skid


Hamels, Phillies blank Reds to snap losing skid


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."

World Series: Kluber, Perez help Indians shut out Cubs in Game 1

World Series: Kluber, Perez help Indians shut out Cubs in Game 1


CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a striking start and Roberto Perez put away Chicago in the Cubs' first World Series game since 1945.

Kluber dominated into the seventh inning, Perez homered twice and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a three-run lead.

"It's almost like you have that extra level of intensity," said Kluber, who became the first Series pitcher to strike out eight batters in the first three innings.

In a matchup between the teams with baseball's longest championship droughts, the Indians scored twice in the first off October ace Jon Lester.

Perez drove in four runs with a fourth-inning solo shot and a three-run drive in the eighth against Hector Rondon, becoming the first Cleveland player and the only No. 9 batter to homer twice in a Series game.

"I've come a long ways," said Perez, who has three home runs in 27 at-bats during the postseason after hitting three in 153 during the regular season.

Francisco Lindor added three hits as the Indians improved to 8-1 this postseason. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is 9-0 in the Series, including sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and `07.

The Game 1 winner has taken the title in the last six Series and 17 of 19.

"I have no concerns," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's the first game. I'm fine, we're fine."

Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a sliced pinkie caused by a freak drone accident, starts Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday night against Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of moving up the first pitch by an hour to 7:08 p.m.

Kluber painted the outside corner, and 24 of his 59 strikes were called by plate umpire Larry Vanover. Twelve batters were caught looking, including seven Cubs.

"I think his ball was moving too much today," said Perez, Cleveland's catcher. "We got guys off balance the whole night."

Kluber combined with Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15, and Chicago went 2 for 15 with 10 strikeouts with runners on base.

With the Indians hoping for their first title since 1948 and the Cubs seeking their first since 1908, Lester stumbled in the opening inning.

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs off Lester, who had been 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA in three Series starts. Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch. Perez connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.

Teams that combined for 174 seasons of futility, America's biggest droughts since the Great Plains' Dust Bowl of the 1930s, captivated even many non-baseball fans.

On a night of civic pride, LeBron James and the NBA's Cavaliers received their championship rings next door prior to their season opener, and Cleveland hosted a World Series opener for the first time.

The Cubs had not played in the Series since five weeks after Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender ending World War II.

Kluber, whose win in the All-Star Game gave the AL home-field advantage on the Series, improved to 3-1 in the postseason and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.74.

He was pitching on six days' rest, and his two-seam fastball was darting through the strike zone. Kluber struck out nine in six innings and walked none

Kyle Schwarber, making a surprise return in his first big league game since tearing knee ligaments on April 7, doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth -- a drive kept in by a stiff wind on a 50-degree night. Kluber then got Javier Baez to fly out.

Zobrist's leadoff double in the seventh finished Kluber, and Cleveland loaded the bases with no outs against Miller on Schwarber's walk and Baez's single. Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras flied to Rajai Davis in short center, and Davis threw home rather than double up Schwarber, who had strayed far off second.

Using his intimidating slider, Miller struck out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the jam, then fanned Schwarber to strand runners at the corners in the eighth, his 46th pitch. Miller has thrown 20 scoreless innings in postseason play, including 13 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts this year.

Allen completed Cleveland's fourth postseason shutout and second in a row.

Ramirez also had three hits each for the Indians, who beat Toronto in the ALCS despite hitting just .168. Zobrist had three hit for the Cubs.

Lester gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, and was rattled by Vanover's calls, barking at the umpire in the third, then stopping for a discussion at the inning's end.

Up next
While Arrieta went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA during the regular season, he struggled to a 5.01 ERA in his final four starts. He allowed four runs over five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Bauer lasted only two outs in his ALCS when his pinkie, cut in a drone accident, began bleeding.

They're back
Dexter Fowler took a called third strike from Kluber leading off the game, becoming the first Cubs player to bat in the Series since Don Johnson hit into a game-ending forceout against Detroit's Hal Newhouser in Game 7 in 1945.

Take a seat
Chicago benched right fielder Jason Heyward, in a 2-for-28 postseason slump, and started Chris Coghlan.

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

6 months later, Cubs' Kyle Schwarber returns for World Series Game 1

CLEVELAND — Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber's rehab finished just in time for the World Series.

Schwarber will bat fifth and be the designated hitter for the National League champions in Game 1 on Tuesday night against Cleveland's Corey Kluber. Schwarber hasn't played in the majors since tearing ligaments in his left knee on April 7 in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler.

Dallas Cowboys orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Cooper operated 12 days later to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. He was expected to miss the rest of the season but was cleared to return on Oct. 17.

Schwarber played a pair of games in the Arizona Fall League, going 1 for 6 with a double and two walks, and flew to Cleveland on Monday.