Hamels, Phillies blank Reds to snap losing skid

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Hamels, Phillies blank Reds to snap losing skid

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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."

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick makes 4th rehab appearance in Lehigh Valley

Howie Kendrick on Saturday night made his fourth rehab appearance in Triple A during Lehigh Valley's 13-1 rout of the Louisville Bats in Allentown.

Kendrick went 1 for 5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play and left two runners in scoring position.

It was his second rehab game playing third base. He played third during his appearance in the IronPigs' 8-4 loss Thursday to the Indianapolis Indians. He was 0 for 1 in three plate appearances with a run scored and was hit by a pitch twice (see story).

The Phillies' plan for Kendrick was to have him play a minimum four games at Lehigh Valley. He played left field in two games and third base twice. Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that Kendrick would also get a game at first base but he hasn't gotten a game at first yet.

There is a chance Kendrick could be recalled Sunday before the Phillies’ series finale against the Cincinnati Reds depending on how he feels.

Kendrick has been sidelined since April 15 with an oblique strain. In 10 games before the injury, Kendrick went 13 for 39 (.333) with five extra-base hits and four walks while exclusively playing left field.

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).