Hamels Outduels Lackey in Phillies’ Win

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[photogallerylink id=21821 align=right]Cole Hamels looks more like his old, dominant self with every start.

Hamels pitched seven impressive innings, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth homered, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 on Friday night.

The NL East-leading Phillies (26-15) are back to a season-high 11 games over .500, but it may have been a costly victory. Jimmy Rollins left the game in the sixth with a mild right calf strain, and he’s day to day. The three-time All-Star shortstop missed 29 games with an injured right calf before returning to the lineup Monday.

“It’s not as bad as I felt it the last time,” Rollins said, hopeful he may only miss a few games.

Hamels (5-2) outpitched John Lackey (4-3) in a matchup of World Series heroes. The lanky left-hander allowed one run and three hits, striking out eight. Hamels had a sharp fastball and baffled hitters with his changeup. Six of his strikeouts came on the change.

J.C. Romero got the last two outs to earn his second save in three tries. He entered with two runners on and loaded the bases by hitting Adrian Beltre with two outs before retiring pinch-hitter David Ortiz on a deep fly to center.

Hamels pitched more like the guy who was MVP of the 2008 World Series when the Phillies beat Tampa Bay in five games. After struggling last year, he’s getting back on track. Hamels lowered his ERA to 3.92 and already has half his win total in ’09. He’s 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in four starts this month.

“I know if I execute pitch after pitch, that’s all I’m able to ask for,” Hamels said.

Lackey gave up four runs and six hits while walking a season-high five in five innings. Lackey was a rookie when he won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for Anaheim against San Francisco.

“I didn’t pitch my best by any means,” Lackey said.

Rollins was playing his fifth game and batted leadoff for the first time since coming back from the disabled list. He took six steps out of the box after hitting a single, jogged slowly to first and immediately came out after touching the bag.

“It’s a big win, but we definitely didn’t want to lose J-Roll,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We need him playing.”

Werth gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead in the fifth with a mammoth drive that reached the second deck in left field. Werth’s ninth homer of the season was measured at 426 feet.

“That one was out of any park,” Lackey said.

Howard hit an opposite-field shot to left to tie it at 1 in the fourth. Werth followed with a double on shallow fly to right that J.D. Drew seemingly lost in the lights. He scored when Shane Victorino lined a one-out single to left-center, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

The Red Sox jumped ahead 1-0 in the first when Victor Martinez hit a liner into the seats in left-center.

Lackey has allowed 15 runs in 18 innings in his last three starts. He gave up three or less in five of his first six outings with Boston after signing an $82.5 million, five-year contract as a free agent last December.

“They make every pitcher work,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “They have guys willing to go deep in the count.”

Notes: Injured Phillies closer Brad Lidge felt good after throwing for the first time since receiving a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right elbow Monday. “I’d like to get out there as fast as possible,” Lidge said. “I have to build some arm strength up before we get out on the mound.” … Phillies LHP J.A. Happ, out with a forearm strain, is expected to continue rehabbing in Florida next week. He was encouraged after throwing Friday. “It’s just feeling crisp as far as the ball coming out of my hand,” he said. … Phillies INF Wilson Valdez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. … The Red Sox fell to 9-4 at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies have had 63 straight sellouts.

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