LOS ANGELES -- There is something about Dodger Stadium to Cole Hamels. He smiled on Thursday when asked about it. Hamels swears he just likes the mound, ignoring the fact that the last two times he has pitched here he has done something special. He threw a shutout Thursday in a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers -- the best team in baseball -- to extend the Phillies' winning streak to seven games. But the previous time he stepped on the Dodger Stadium mound, he clinched the Phillies' first trip to the World Series since 1993 when he dazzled the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Hamels said he had no flashbacks of Game 5 on Thursday. "No, because Manny wasn't in there," Hamels joked. Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez is serving a 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances. But it might not have mattered if Ramirez had been in the lineup on Thursday. Hamels kept the ball down in the strike zone. He mixed his pitches. He threw to both sides of the plate. "He can hit the outer corner and inner corner and stuff like that," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That's something you can't find very often, especially with left-handers." Hamels allowed just five hits and struck out five in the third shutout of his career. Even more impressive, he threw just 97 pitches. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said he had a feeling Hamels was going to dominate as soon as he started throwing in the bullpen. Everything Hamels threw was down. Down, down, down. "It's going to be a good day for Cole," Ruiz told bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer. "He'll go eight innings." He went nine, partially because he kept the ball down. "It's hard to foul balls off when they're low in the zone," Hamels said. "If it's up and guys miss it, they foul it off. When it's low in the zone, they mostly put it in play and it's a ground ball." Hamels got two big ground-ball outs in the first and second innings: a pair of double-play balls hit to shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Hamels got 13 of his 27 outs from grounders. And that helped him keep his pitch count low. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he looked up after the sixth inning and saw Hamels had thrown just 62 pitches. Sixty-two. It's even more impressive when one considers he threw 27 pitches in the first two innings. He threw just six pitches in the third, eight pitches in the fourth, 10 in the fifth and 11 in the sixth. It was the Phillies' first shutout of the season, and first since Sept. 5, 2008, when Brett Myers and Brad Lidge combined to shut out the Mets at Shea Stadium. It was the first shutout for a Phillies starter since Aug. 20, 2008, when Myers shut out the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, 4-0. It was Hamels' third shutout of his career, and first since June 5, 2008, when he shut out the Reds at the Bank, 5-0. "This is the best one he's pitched this year," Manuel said. "But I've seen him pitch some good ones. This is a good game for him. The way the season has kind of gone so far, this was a very good game for him, confidence-wise." The Phillies are 32-20 for the second-best record in baseball. They have a four-game lead over the Mets in the NL East. Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly to center in the fourth scored Chase Utley to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Raul Ibanez's double to left-center field in the sixth scored Jayson Werth to make it 2-0, and Werth's single up the middle in the seventh scored Ruiz to make it 3-0. But the night belonged to Hamels, who is the Phillies' ace in a rotation that just lost its No. 2 in Myers, as Myers underwent hip surgery on Thursday and is likely done for the season. "I'd say I feel real good when he pitches," Manuel said. "I think most guys on our team and most people in Philadelphia feel that way."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.