Countdown to the Playoffs, Game # 12: Cole Hamels shut down the Braves as the Phils take a four-game lead in the East, as they defeat the Braves, 3-1.

A brilliant eight innings pitching performance by Cole Hamels leads the Phils to a 3-1 win over the Braves, as they increase their lead in the NL East to four games, while their magic number to winning the division drops down to eight.

The Braves took the lead in the second as, with one man on, and with nobody out, Brian McCann hits an RBI double, knocking in Derrek Lee, who had earlier singled, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. The Braves threaten to add to their lead as they put runners on the corners after Matt Diaz hits a single, sending McCann over to third base, with still nobody out, but Phils starter Cole Hamels got out of further trouble by first striking out Alex Gonzalez, swinging, for the inning’s first out, then getting Melky Cabrera to hit into a 4-6-3 doubleplay, wiping out Diaz at second base. The Phils would tie the game up at one-all in their half of the first as, with a runner on third, and with two men out, Carlos Ruiz hits an RBI double, scoring Ryan Howard, who had earlier doubled, then moved up to third on Raul Ibanez’s ground out, 1-3. The Phils would take the lead in the fifth as, with a runner on third, and with nobody out, Placido Polanco hits an RBI ground out, 6-3, knocking in Shane Victorino, who had earlier reached third on a three-base fielding error by Jason Heyward, as the ball glance off of his glove, to give the Phils a 2-1 lead. Four batters later, the Phils made it a 3-1 lead as, with the bases loaded, via a Chase Utley single, who later stole second base, and then walks to first Howard, and then to Jayson Werth, moving both Utley and Howard up a base, and with still one man out, Ibanez hits an RBI ground out, 6-3, knocking in Utley, while moving both Howard and Werth up a base. That would be all that Hamels would need as he would pitch eight strong innings, giving up only a run on just six hits and a walk, while he would strike out six Braves, before handing the ball over to Brad Lidge, who would pitch a strong 1-2-3 ninth to collect his twenty-fourth save of the season, ending the game by striking out Lee, swinging.

Cole Hamels gets the win as he pitches eight strong innings, giving up only one run on six hits and a walk, while he strikes out six. His record is now 12-10 with a 2.93 ERA. Brad Lidge records his twenty-fourth save of the year as he pitches a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two batters. Brandon Beachy took the lost in his major league debut, as he pitches four and a third innings, giving up three runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits and three walks, while he strikes out only one. His record is now 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Eric O’Flaherty, Peter Moylan, Michael Dunn and Kyle Farnsworth combine for four and two-thirds scoreless innings, giving up just one hit (Dunn) and three walks (O’Flaherty (2), Moylan (1)), while striking out four (Moylan (1), Dunn (1), Farnsworth (2)) between them.

The Phils had just five hits in the game, singles by Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth and double by Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, with Ruiz knocking in one run, while Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez knocked in the other two Phils’ runs with ground outs. The offense, although hitting the ball hard, especially against the rookie Brandon Beachy, have little to show for it, although a Braves error allowed them to get the runs they would need to win, with Cole Hamels pitching strongly last night

The Phils (90-61, 1st) will continue their three-games series with the Braves (86-65, 2nd) with a night game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phils will send to the mound their ace Roy Halladay (19-10, 2.49), who is coming off a win against the Marlins on September 15, as he pitched six innings, giving up three runs on ten hits, as he struck out nine, in the Phils’ 10-5 win. In his last three starts, his record is 3-0, as he pitched twenty and two-thirds innings, giving up eleven runs on twenty-five hits and two walks, while striking out twenty. Doc will be going for his fourth win in a row, while trying to pitch his first strong outing in over a month, while planning to make it 3-0 against the Braves this season. The Braves will counter with Mike Minor (3-1, 5.84), another rookie, who is coming off a lost against the Nationals on September 15, as he pitched five innings, giving up four runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out six, in the Braves’ 4-2 lost. In his last three starts, his record is 0-1 with two no-decisions, as he had pitched fourteen innings, giving up fourteen runs on twenty hits and two walks, while striking out fifteen. He will be trying to get the Braves back into the pennant race by hoping to regain what he was doing during his first four starts in the majors. The Phils, the first NL team to reach 90 wins, will be going for the series win tonight, hoping to put themselves firmly into the driver’s seat for the final ten games of the season.

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