Hamels K's 15 as Phils down Reds

Hamels K's 15 as Phils down Reds

CINCINNATI -- When addressing the dominant pitching performance he had just witnessed by southpaw Cole Hamels, manager Charlie Manuel said, "He pitched [an amazing] game. Super, man."

Did he mean "Super, man" or "Superman"?

"Either way," Manuel chuckled.

The effort was a career-high 15-strikeout near-masterpiece that guided the Phils to a 4-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 39,353 at Great American Ball Park.

"He had it all working tonight," catcher Rod Barajas said. "This is one of the best games I've ever caught.

"He didn't give them too much to hit, and when he did, it was after seeing two or three changeups in a row and then their bat speed was a little slower from seeing that," Barajas said of Hamels' ability to record the 15 strikeouts.

Manuel called a pregame team meeting Saturday to help resolve some of the issues that were plaguing the last-place Phils. Hamels believed it helped his mind-set taking the mound.

"With the motivation that we all had, I think it makes you relax a little more knowing that everyone else is going to be behind you, that we're going to play as one unit. It allowed me to execute my pitches and keep guys off-balance."

It was unlikely Manuel talked about turning triple plays in his pregame meeting with the team, but the Phils got exactly that as well to help Hamels out of a fifth-inning jam.

With runners on first and second, Reds catcher David Ross swung on Hamels' first offering, and grounded it directly to third baseman Abraham Nunez, who started the 5-4-3 around-the-horn triple play.

It was the first triple play turned by the Phillies since May 15, 1999, against the New York Mets.

"It was just what the doctor ordered," Manuel said.

"It was one of the most exciting things I've ever had happen," Hamels began.

"Just the way the inning was going -- no outs and having to bear down -- having that play just come out of nowhere was very helpful and so exciting at the same point, because I [figure] I won't have another one of those anytime soon."

"It saved me probably about 10 to 15 pitches, and I wouldn't have been able to go out in the ninth inning [without it]," Hamels said.

Hamels was able to stay in the ninth and get his first complete game in the Majors. He threw 115 pitches, allowed one earned run on five hits and walked two.

The 23-year old established himself as the Phillies' new ace now that Opening Day starter Brett Myers is working out of the bullpen. Hamels also thought the picture-perfect weather played a factor in his effort.

"The joy of being out there [made a difference], just because it's baseball weather," Hamels said of the evening that graced Cincinnati with a first-pich temperature of 72 degrees.

Batting leadoff for the first time this year, Shane Victorino opened the game with a single. Jimmy Rollins got aboard courtesy of a throwing error that pulled Brandon Phillips off the bag while trying to apply the forceout. A double steal by Victorino and Rollins set up Chase Utley's opportunity to knock them both in with a double off the wall in left-center, as the Phils quickly secured a 2-0 lead.

Utley also added a solo home run in the sixth before Aaron Rowand knocked his own 354-foot solo shot in the eighth to move the lead to 4-1.

Offensively, Manuel took note of the gamer Utley's performance.

"When we lose, Utley takes it hard. He could go 0-for-4, and if we win the game, that's fine. He could go 4-for-4 if we lose, and he'd be upset. He's that kind of player."

With the game being played in Cincinnati, Manuel even went as far to bring up some Reds history to gauge Utley's style.

"I used to think Pete Rose is one of the most hustling players I've ever seen. Utley, he's every bit as hard as Pete Rose was when you talk about hard play."

Hamels established himself from the top, striking out the side in the first. He added two more strikeouts in the second. His only mistake on the night was a home run by Reds first baseman Jeff Conine to start the second inning.

Brian Connors Manke is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.