Bad luck, poor preparation, lack of intestinal fortitude, whatever it was that hexed Cole Hamels throughout 2009, it appears to be gone.
The Phillies lefthander was utterly brilliant today, allowing a single hit and one walk over eight innings pitched, striking out seven and keeping the Cardinals off the board. Which turned out to be necessary, because the Philadelphia offense spent the better part of 10 hapless innings putting runners on base and failing to get them home.
While Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was not as strong as Hamels, he still pitched very well, albeit a little less efficiently, allowing six hits over six innings put throwing 97 pitches before being pulled before the seventh inning.
The Phillies finally broke through in the top of the 11th on a Placido Polanco solo home run off reliever Kyle McLellan. And (wait for it), a base hit with a runner in scoring position for Jayson Werth, whose RBI double drove Raul Ibanez in from second base to give the Phillies their second run.
After walking the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 11th, Brad Lidge retired the next three hitters in order for his 8th save.
With the victory, the Phillies averted a possible Chernobyl sweep, and kept it contained as a mere Three Mile Island.