Solving riddle of Cole Hamels

Let others panic while Jimmy Rollins recovers from his strained calf. The two-time defending National League champion Phillies know their ultimate moment of truth is a long ways off.

“We’re just biding our time until we get back to full strength,” said Jayson Werth, who slammed one of three solo homers yesterday. “We’re hitting our stride, but we’ve got a long ways to go. It’s early May.”

By then the Phillies, who also got homers from Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino yesterday, can only hope to solve the riddle of Cole Hamels.

Five days after throwing brilliantly against the Cardinals, Hamels needed 40 pitches to get out of the fifth inning. Fortunately, Charlie Manuel’s bullpen — Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge — worked four perfect innings to save it for him. Lidge survived two warning track blasts to earn his first save of the season.

“All of a sudden his fastball and his command dropped off,” said Manuel. “I don’t have an answer for it.”

Neither does Hamels.

“I know adversity is part of the game, It’s how you deal with it,” said Hamels (3-2, 4.53 ERA). “You have to have fun out there. There’s a reason why I’ve gotten myself this far. It’s a matter of repeating the things it took to get there.”

Having seen what the finished product (see: 2008 postseason) can look like at its best, the Phillies know that Hamels would be worth the wait.

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