SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — The toughest matchup for Cole Hamels might’ve come against teammate Cliff Lee.
Hamels pitched a seven-hitter for his first win in two weeks and the Philadelphia Phillies won their season-high ninth in a row, beating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 Saturday.
Hamels made a pair of first-inning runs hold up as the Phillies, with the best record in the majors, defeated the Giants for the third straight day.
Two days after Lee threw a shutout, Hamels (13-6) blanked the Giants until Pablo Sandoval’s two-out home run in the ninth inning. Hamels struck out five and faced five batters more than the minimum while dominating the defending World Series champs.
Hamels had only one victory in his previous four starts and lost to San Francisco 2-1 on July 27 despite pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs and six hits.
He was even stronger in the rematch and got better results.
“I was one out away from a shutout,” Hamels said with a grin. “Cliff just got one. We’re all trying to compete against each other.”
Hamels, who hadn’t won since July 22, faced the minimum through three innings, then gave up back-to-back singles in the fourth. He quickly worked out of the jam, striking out Carlos Beltran on three pitches before Sandoval grounded into a 4-6-3 double play in the first pitch.
San Francisco didn’t get another runner until the seventh, and had two on with two outs in the eighth but failed to score each time.
All but three of the 27 outs recorded by the All-Star left-hander were made by the infield. Philadelphia also backed Hamels with two double plays in a game that took 2 hours, 14 minutes.
“Any time you can win a series it’s big and any time you can win on the road it’s big,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We know how good the Giants can be but at the same time if we play the way we’re capable of playing and stay relaxed and focused … that works for us.”
The game was far less testy than Friday night’s 9-2 Phillies win, which included the ejection of three players following a bench-clearing brawl in the sixth inning.
Matt Cain (9-8) allowed only three hits over eight innings but took the loss, his second straight. San Francisco has dropped eight of nine since taking two of three games from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Jimmy Rollins doubled high off the wall in right-center leading off the game, and after Chase Utley drew a one-out walk and Howard struck out, Hunter Pence hit a bloop single to right to drive in Rollins.
Utley tried to take third on the play and appeared to be out following a strong throw by Nate Schierholtz, but Sandoval bobbled the ball, allowing Utley to reach safely. Three pitches later he scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
“We got to him early but after that he was tough,” said Ryan Howard, who struck out three times before singling in the ninth. “He got into some situations where it could have gone bad, and Cole got into some situations where it could have gone bad, but they got out of them.”
The Giants are hitless in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the three games against the Phillies this weekend. Over its last 16 games, San Francisco is batting .157 (16 for 102) with runners in scoring position.
It got so bad that first baseman and crowd favorite Aubrey Huff was booed loudly by the home crowd after grounding out to Hamels.
“We had more hits than they did, we just couldn’t get the big hit,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You don’t win the World Series unless you can beat good pitching. Right now we’re not doing that.”
Before the game, Bochy said he expects to hear soon from Major League Baseball about penalties for Friday’s bench-clearing brawl.
San Francisco reliever Ramon Ramirez and catcher Eli Whiteside were both ejected along with Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino.
Victorino was booed during pregame introductions and every at-bat by the sellout crowd at AT&T Park, but there were no other lingering effects from the fight.
Cain nearly matched Hamels, retiring 20 of the final 22 batters he faced after giving up both Philadelphia runs in the first. The right-hander struck out eight and walked two.
“I made a couple of mistakes early,” Cain said. “The way Hamels was throwing the ball, that was enough.”
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