ST. LOUIS -- Cole Hamels has always been important to the Phillies, but he is quickly becoming more and more important in the rest of the baseball world.
Hamels pitched Monday night in a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He allowed four hits, one run, four walks and struck out nine in seven innings to improve to 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA through five starts this season.
Hamels' starts always receive a little extra attention because he is regarded as one of the best left-handers in baseball -- he has the third-best ERA in the Majors since June 1, 2014 -- but his start Monday received a little more attention because of his availability on the trade market and what is happening to starting pitching around baseball.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright ruptured his left Achilles over the weekend and will miss the rest of the season. Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy has a torn UCL and will likely have season-ending Tommy John surgery. Tigers ace Justin Verlander has not thrown a baseball since April 15 because he has inflammation in his right triceps, although the Tigers said his condition has improved. And the Red Sox's rotation has a 5.84 ERA, which is the worst in baseball.
Hamels said he is not paying attention to those things and how they might relate to him.
"I'm living in the moment, and that's kind of all I can do," Hamels said. "In order to be accountable for what I have to do, I can't think in the future or the past. I've got to be here in the present."
Hamels allowed a run in the third inning when he allowed three consecutive two-out singles to Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday. Hamels allowed a one-out double to Carpenter in the fifth, but he struck out Peralta and Matt Adams to end the inning.
"He got them in big situations," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said about Hamels' strikeouts.
The Phillies scored three runs for Hamels in the seventh. They had scored just three runs for him in his first four starts.
The support helped him improve to 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA in eight career starts at Busch Stadium, including one start in the 2011 National League Division Series. He had faced Wainwright in two of those eight starts.
"It's definitely unfortunate what happened to him," Hamels said about Wainwright. "I definitely feel for him. You don't ever want that, especially to a guy as great as he is personally and as a competitor for St. Louis."
Hamels had high praise for St. Louis.
"This is a great stadium," he said. "It's pure enjoyment to go out there. You know you're playing a great team every year. Every year I've pitched against them they're one of the top teams in the division. It shows with the World Series [titles] they have."
So would Hamels welcome a trade to St. Louis, if the situation presented itself?
"I don't think I'm going to address that. Sorry," he said, with a chuckle.
Hamels is living in the moment. But if he continues to pitch well and starters around baseball continue to fall, his future could be decided soon.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.