Hamels out­du­eled by Gon­za­lez in se­ries closer against Nats

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By DEN­NIS DEITCH

WASH­ING­TON — There aren’t many hit­ters who have got­ten the best of Cole Hamels on a reg­u­lar ba­sis dur­ing his long, suc­cess­ful ca­reer with the Phillies.

Scott Hairston is one of them. The Na­tion­als have kept the ag­ing veteran on their bench this sea­son prac­ti­cally as a hired as­sas­sin to vex Hamels when the di­vi­sion ri­vals play.

Adam LaRoche is another. Few left-handed hit­ters have ex­tended lev­els of suc­cess against Hamels, but LaRoche has.

Sure enough, those two com­bined to foil Hamels, as the Na­tion­als avoided a sec­ond straight sweep at the hands of the last-place Phillies with a 3-2 win Sun­day.

Hairston’s sacrifice fly to the fence in the sixth in­ning plated the de­cid­ing run and LaRoche’s pair a solo homers an­swered a pair of onerun leads the Phillies had grabbed ear­lier in the game. For LaRoche, the homers gave him six home runs in 45 ca­reer plate ap­pear­ances against Hamels, the most of any hit­ter, and his 1.071 OPS against Hamels is the sec­ond-high­est for any left-handed hit­ter with 20 or more plate ap­pear­ances against him.

One of the hit­ters with five ca­reer bombs off Hamels that LaRoche passed atop the list is Hairston, who has made 10 starts this sea­son for the Na­tion­als, four of them against Hamels. Sure enough, he has a hit in ev­ery game this sea­son against Hamels and hit two fly balls to the wall Sun­day.

“I know,” Hamels said, shak­ing his head, when asked if it seems Hairston’s ex­is­tence is based around tor­ment­ing him. “When he played for the Padres and Mets he put up some pretty good num­bers. I guess I’ll be happy the day he re­tires.

“I know (Hairston and LaRoche) are go­ing to get their hits. It’s a mat­ter of keep­ing them in the ball­park ... They just see the ball a lit­tle bit bet­ter (against him), and that builds con­fi­dence, and that can take you a long way. They are go­ing up there think­ing they can get a hit, and I’m

out there try­ing to get them out. So it’s a bat­tle.”

Both the hit­ter and the pitcher thought Hairston’s sacrifice fly was his sixth ca­reer homer against Hamels. Hairston stood and watched it. Hamels mo­tioned to the plate um­pire for a new ball. In­stead, Grady Size­more reeled it in with his back pressed against the wall.

“I guess bad wind cur­rents to­day,” said Hairston, who only has 69 at-bats this sea­son. “Guys with pop, those balls go out ... I guess me stand­ing there pretty much gave it away. I had the mind­set to just get the ball to the out­field some­how. If you get it, it will go over the fence, if not it would at least be a sacrifice fly.”

Hairston only had a run­ner on third to drive in be­cause Ian Des­mond had lined a dou­ble to left be­fore he stepped in, then danced­off­sec­ond­basee­noughto getHamels tomakeapick­off­movethat first-ba­se­um­pire Chad Fairchild ruled a balk. Hamels did take an awk­ward hop dur­ing the move when his cleat­caughton­the rub­ber, buthe­didn’t think the move it­self was wor­thy of the call.

“I’ll keep do­ing it, and if they keep call­ing it then I guess I have a prob­lem,” Hamels said of the move. “I think it’s some­thing I’ve been do­ing my whole ca­reer. It’s some­thing I guess I need to be more aware of, be­cause there might be a check next to my name when they come in to um­pire my games. I’ll try to fix it.

“It’sun­for­tu­nate­be­causetherun­scored. I got lucky with Hairston not hit­ting a homer, be­cause I know that would’ve been 85 rows deep at our field.”

The Phillies, mean­while, man­aged just two runs against Na­tion­als starter Gio Gon­za­lez, who had his first walk-free start of a strug­gling sea­son for the south­paw. One of the Phillies’ runs was un­earned, as a reck­less throw by De­nard Span to third base when Size­more went from first to third on a Mar­lon Byrd sin­gle al­lowed him to score in the top of the first.

It seemed that the Phillies might get two runs on the play. Nats third base­man An­thony Ren­don threw wildly to the plate in an at­tempt to get Size­more and it sailed into the­home­dugout. Byrd, by rule, got two bases on the throw out of play, but the um­pires ruled that Byrd hadn’t got­ten to sec­ond base yet.

When Ryne Sand­berg at­tempted to chal­lenge the rul­ing, he was in­formed that was not a judg­ment that could be re­versed by re­play — even though it seems a very easy call to con­firm with a cam­era view that shows the en­tire field.

“I couldn’t tell, I had fallen go­ing into sec­ond,” Byrd said, although in the locker next to him, Jim­myRollins voiced the opin­ion that the um­pires missed it.

Alex Bran­don/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ Adam LaRoche, cen­ter, cel­e­brates his solo home run dur­ing the fourth in­ning of a base­ball game against the Philadel­phia Phillies.

Alex Bran­don/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Philadel­phia Phillies start­ing pitcher Cole Hamels throws dur­ing the fifth in­ning of a base­ball game against the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als.

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