The Boston Red Sox had feasted on left-handed pitchers of late, but on a warm Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, they choked on Cole Hamels. In one of his best games since October 2008, Hamels held Boston's lineup to three hits and a walk in seven innings of work, striking out eight. Hamels allowed a solo home run to Victor Martinez in the first inning and threw 44 pitches through the first two--a tribute to the patient approach of the Red Sox hitters as well as umpire Gary Cederstrom's erratic strike zone--but he got stronger as the night went on, allowing only two runners as far as second base over the final six innings. Hamels showed superior velocity on his fastball, running it up to 95 on occasion, and effectively mixed in his curve to set up his killer change.
Meanwhile, the Phillies sent out their "regular" lineup to the field for the first time since the sixth game of the season, with Jimmy Rollins back in the leadoff spot, against Boston's John Lackey. (Alas, it might be awhile before that happens again: Rollins seemed to reinjure his calf on a sixth-inning single, and was lifted for Juan Castro. Reports have him day to day for now.) Lackey escaped some trouble through the first couple innings, but Ryan Howard tied the game leading off the fourth with an opposite field home run that just cleared the wall. Jayson Werth followed with a pop fly to right that J.D. Drew lost in the darkening sky, much to the delight of the fans who (still) love to hate him. Two batters later, Shane Victorino, back in the seventh spot, singled in Werth for a 2-1 Phillies lead. The Phils left the bases loaded that inning, but stretched their lead to 4-1 in the fifth when Howard walked and Werth crushed a Lackey offering deep into the second deck in left field. Howard singled in another run in the sixth.
The pitchers did the rest, with David Herndon working a clean eighth inning in relief of Hamels. But the Phils ran into trouble in the ninth, when Danys Baez allowed a single to Martinez and walked Kevin Youkilis. J.C. Romero came on to retire Drew, but hit Adrian Beltre with a pitch. Sox manager Terry Francona called on David Ortiz to pinch-hit as the potential tying run. Romero got ahead 1-2--then got a fastball just enough inside to Ortiz that the aging slugger hit it for a 390-foot game-ending fly out to center.
The series continues Saturday evening when Kyle Kendrick opposes Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka.