Phillies top Nationals in Harper-Hamels encore

Cole Hamels didn’t hit Bryce Harper or any of the Nationals. The Phillies stopper didn’t give up a hit until the sixth inning.

King Cole was dominant when the Phillies needed a big effort from their left-handed ace. Hamels and the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals, 4-1, which ended a four-game losing streak.

“Being able to go out and stop the skid we’ve been on the past couple of days was what we had to do,” Hamels said. “I just try to put up as many zeroes as possible and hope the team scores a few runs.”

Hamels (7-1) had a tremendous curveball to complement his exceptional changeup and plus-fastball. Hamels gave up four hits in eight shutout innings. He struck out eight and walked three.

“He pitched good,” Charlie Manuel said. “He had a good changeup down in the zone.”

The only trouble Hamels had was in the sixth when the Nats hit three singles but failed to score thanks to a great play by, who else, Carlos Ruiz. The catcher blocked the plate and picked a short hop thrown by Hunter Pence before applying the tag to Danny Espinosa.

“It was huge,” Hamels said. “It really saved us. You don’t want the opposing team to get that momentum back. Chooch [Ruiz] made a great tag.”

Ruiz, who is wielding a hot bat, had three hits in the four-hole and is now batting .357. The only dark cloud is that Ruiz took a foul ball off his right wrist in the seventh inning. He finished the game behind the plate, but had an X-Ray after the contest.

The singles-hitting Phillies actually drilled three doubles. Shane Victorino knocked in a run with a two-bagger and the center fielder also homered. But the last-place Phillies are perfecting the art of small ball. The Phillies executed a flawless suicide squeeze thanks to an effective bunt from Juan Pierre, who scored a charging Mike Fontenot.

“I had the right bunter and the right runner,” Manuel said.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis saved a run by making an unbelievable, over-the-shoulder catch in the middle of left field with a runner on third in the eighth.

“I thought he had no chance,” Hamels said. “When it came off the bat I thought it would drop in between them. I thought the run was going to score, but he made an outstanding play. Freddy will definitely be in the top ten plays tonight on ESPN.”

Harper, the Nationals’ talented rookie, went 1-for-3. Hamels didn’t come close to hitting him. The potential top free agent of the class of 2012 was too busy dealing.

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