(Sports Network) – Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels can become the first 10-game winner in the major leagues when he toes the rubber today against the Seattle Mariners in the finale of a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Hamels is 4-0 with a 1.64 earned run average in his last six starts — with the Phillies going 5-1 in that stretch — and is coming off seven innings of one-run ball in a 9-1 rout of Florida on Tuesday. Hamels, who has allowed a total of two runs over his past three outings, left the game with tightness in his back but should be ready to go for this afternoon.
“It just kind of tightened up on me,” Hamels said. “It got a lot colder and my body temperature kind of dropped. Everything was just kind of tightening up. Obviously, I don’t think it’s that smart to go out and try to compete and not be able to compete at my best. And obviously I don’t want to hurt anything, so it’s just playing smart.”
The 2008 World Series MVP has gone at least seven innings in four straight starts and is 9-2 on the season with a 2.49 ERA through 14 trips to the mound. Hamels has never faced Seattle and is a dominant 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six road tilts this season. He is one of four pitchers in the majors, including teammate Roy Halladay, to have nine wins this season. Jon Lester of Boston and the Tigers’ Max Scherzer are the other two.
Philadelphia hopes young hurler Vance Worley can one day get to nine wins by June and got five innings of one-run ball out of the right-hander in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Mariners. Worley did not figure into the decision, while reliever Michael Stutes collected the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
Shane Victorino had a big night with four RBI, including a two-run homer, and his two-run double in the seventh inning put the NL East-leading Phillies ahead for good. Ryan Howard had two hits and an RBI for Philadelphia, which bounced back from Friday’s 4-2 loss and won for the 11th time in 14 tries.
“I told myself to try and get a pitch, relax and see something you can put in play and let it happen,” Victorino said of his two-base hit in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie. “Obviously, in that situation I succeeded, a lot of times I don’t, but that one I did.”
Victorino has gone 5-for-8 with two home runs, three runs scored and five RBI in the first two games of this series. The Phils are six games ahead of Atlanta in the division standings and 2-0 on a six-game trek through Seattle and St. Louis. They will start a three-game set with the Cardinals Tuesday.
Philadelphia is 11-6 this month and hasn’t finished above .500 in June since going 15-13 in 2007.
The Mariners had a modest two-game winning streak stopped last night and lost for the seventh time in 12 tries. Staff ace Felix Hernandez was dealt the loss for yielding three runs and eight hits in seven innings with five K’s.
Prized prospect Dustin Ackley recorded the first home run of his career and Greg Halman had a team-best two hits for Seattle, which is 2-3 on a six-game homestand and will hit the road for six games in Washington and Florida following today’s series finale with the Phillies.
“It felt great. He [Worley] gave me a good pitch to hit 3-2, put a good swing on it and ended up tying the game,” Ackley said of his blast in the second inning.
Ichiro Suzuki saw his streak of six consecutive multi-hit games come to an end Saturday, going 1-for-5. The loss dropped the Mariners 1 1/2 games behind Texas for the top spot in the AL West.
Mariners starter Jason Vargas hopes to move over the .500 mark when he takes the hill Sunday afternoon. Vargas is 4-4 with a pedestrian 4.13 ERA in 14 starts this season and has lost two of his previous three decisions.
Vargas was last in action in Monday’s 6-3 defeat at the hands of the LA Angels of Anaheim and allowed five runs in seven innings. Two starts removed from the first shutout of his career versus Tampa Bay on June 3, Vargas is 3-4 in nine starts at Safeco Field.
In three career games, one of which was a start, against Philadelphia, the lefty is 0-0 with a 9.45 ERA across 6 2/3 innings of work.
The Phillies and Mariners are battling for the first time since Seattle won two of three meetings back in 2005 in the Pacific Northwest. Philadelphia is 109-131 all-time in interleague play, while the Mariners own a solid 140-113 mark against the National League.