Break Dancing: Phillies 1, Reds 0

On a day when, yet again, the Phillies lineup bore no resemblance other than what was on the uniforms to the league-devouring behemoth of 2007-2009, the team took a second straight 1-0 win from the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds to finish out a four-game sweep. The heroes were Cole Hamels and the three relievers who followed him to get the final four outs, with a bit less drama than usual; this was the first game of the series not to last into extra innings. 

That lineup managed just four hits and a run off former Phils farmhand Matt Maloney. As was the case Saturday night, a Carlos Ruiz double and a two-out Jimmy Rollins RBI single produced the run, albeit in the third inning rather than the 11th. The Phils threatened again in the fourth, as Jayson Werth led off with a deep drive to center that an imbecilic fan reached over the wall to catch; given the ricochet the ball would have taken off the wall and where outfielder Drew Stubbs was positioned, a triple or even inside-the-park home run was likely. But Werth anchored at second, and after hitting Ryan Howard with a pitch, Maloney escaped further trouble.

The lone run would have to hold up, and thanks to Hamels, it did. The lefty didn't fill up the strikeout column Sunday--in part because of the coin-flip strike zone artistically created by home plate ump Todd Tichenor--but mixed his pitches well and kept his composure throughout. He did perhaps his best work escaping a bases-loaded, no out jam in the fourth, after a seeming strikeout of Scott Rolen was deemed a walk. Hamels induced Jonny Gomes to ground to third, where Cody Ransom threw home for a force-out, and then caught a soft line drive off the bat of Jay Bruce which he flipped to Jimmy Rollins at second to double off Joey Votto. It was one of three double plays Hamels got on a day when he worked about a half-dozen full counts and saw the Reds foul off about two dozen offerings. 

He finally gave way after 112 pitches with two outs in the eighth, when Votto doubled off the left-field wall on a full-count pitch. Charlie Manuel called on Jose Contreras to face Rolen, who again drew a walk after two beautiful pitches were inexplicably called balls. But the big Cuban got Gomes to ground softly to Wilson Valdez at second to end the threat. J.C. Romero started the ninth by striking out Bruce, then Brad Lidge came on to fan Drew Stubbs on a filthy slider before getting pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo to pop out to end it. 

Now, let's not get too giddy here: excepting the 9th and 10th innings of Friday's comeback thriller, the Phillies scored a total of seven runs in 39 innings against the Reds, including two in their last 19 in games started by rookie left-handers with profiles somewhat lower than, say, Stephen Strasburg's. Still, a sweep is a sweep, and one of the four-game variety against a deep and talented Reds team provides a huge lift for the spirits as well as in the standings as the Phillies head into the all-star break.   

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