Hamels, Phillies' bats unable to get in gear
Lefty allows five early runs; Phils' Wild Card lead at one
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in the National League since April.
Not that his record shows it.
When he has pitched well, the Phils have not scored. When he has struggled, they have not scored. His record has suffered as a result.
The trend continued Thursday in a 5-2 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, which kept the Phillies 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the National League East. Hamels suffered his worst start in nearly two months, allowing seven hits and five runs in five innings. But the Phillies did not score until the ninth, after Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez left the game.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to execute," Hamels said. "When you put up a three-spot in the first inning, it's kind of tough for your team to come back."
It is even tougher with Hamels on the mound.
Hamels had been on the mound for four of the Phillies' 10 shutout losses this season. He had lost back-to-back 1-0 games to the Mets before Thursday. He ranked 47th out of 50 pitchers in the NL in run support (3.33 runs per nine innings). Only Johan Santana (3.32), Ted Lilly (2.65) and Roy Oswalt (2.61) have had worse luck.
"It's hard to explain," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "Sometimes that's how the game goes. It's really tough."
Hamels struck out Aaron Rowand to start the game, but things quickly went downhill from there. He allowed three runs in the first, a run in the fourth and a solo homer in the fifth to Pablo Sandoval to make it 5-0.
"When you're not able to get ahead of hitters, when you're not able to hit your spots, when you do finally throw pitches over the plate, they're going to swing," Hamels said. "They're an aggressive team, so you have to try to keep them off-balance as much as possible. But you have to get ahead of them [in the count]."
The Giants, who moved within one game of the Phillies in the NL Wild Card standings, felt fortunate Hamels did not bring his best.
"We're facing one of the better pitchers in the game," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been pitching lights-out. To beat him and a team like that, that's big."
Hamels is 7-10, despite a 3.51 ERA.
That type of record would be enough to make a former World Series MVP crazy.
"I haven't really followed the wins and losses," Hamels said. "I try to just completely blank that out. It's one of those statistics that is really starting to fade away for a starter in this day and age. I don't think it really defines what they're doing."
Had the Phillies been able to pick up Hamels once in a while, he might have 12-14 wins. But he does not, and it appeared early on the offense would not be able to help Hamels out of this hole, either.
Sanchez, who allowed just two hits and one run in eight-plus innings, is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies. He allowed a two-out single to Shane Victorino in the third and a leadoff single to Victorino in the ninth, but nothing more.
Sanchez retired 15 consecutive batters at one point.
"He's got good stuff," Manuel said. "He doesn't have what you call real great command, but he's just wild enough to be real good. His stuff is good. He's got real good pitches, man. We didn't hit too many balls hard. I can count two or three."
Sanchez hit Chase Utley with a pitch to lead off the fourth. Jayson Werth crushed a ball to right-center, but Rowand made a nice running catch, which forced Utley to scamper back to first. It was the hardest hit ball all night.
The catch had shades of Rowand's face-breaking catch at the center-field wall in 2006, when he played for the Phillies, except Rowand mercifully avoided the wall this time.
The Phils scored their runs in the ninth after Bochy lifted Sanchez following the leadoff hit to Victorino.
Philadelphia avoided its 11th shutout loss, but it wouldn't be enough to help Hamels.
"Sometimes it works out that way," left fielder Raul Ibanez said. "And unfortunately, right now, it's going that way when Cole pitches. He's pitched really well. It's tough. We'd like to score more runs for him. And hopefully next time we will."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.