Hamels bested by Johan in classic duel

Hamels bested by Johan in classic duel

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels is just the latest example why a pitcher's win-loss record can be incredibly misleading.

He is 7-8.

He is a losing pitcher, but he is the furthest thing from a "losing" pitcher. Hamels tossed another gem on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, but Mets left-hander Johan Santana pitched better in a 1-0 victory over the Phillies. Philadelphia snapped its 12-game home winning streak to fall two games behind Atlanta in the National League East.

Hamels has a 3.45 ERA in 23 starts this season, a 2.97 ERA in 18 starts since April and a 1.94 ERA in six starts since July 6.

But he has won just one decision since June 13 in Boston because he has been plagued by some of the worst run support in the NL.

"We're winning," Hamels said. "I think that's the goal. I think if I can just go out there and play my part as much as I possibly can and go deep in ballgames and execute, that's all I can really do and that's all I can really control. It's just a matter of time, and things will work out."

Santana allowed a career-high 10 earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies on May 3, but he looked like himself Saturday.

The Mets' ace walked Jayson Werth and Ben Francisco in the second inning and Jimmy Rollins in the third, but never allowed a hit until Placido Polanco singled up the middle with two outs in the sixth.

"He had a couple things going for him," Polanco said. "He was working really fast. He was painting the fastball and changeup. He was using his pitches in a smarter way today [than his start in May]."

"Johan pitched a phenomenal game," Hamels added. "Anytime you're going up against the type of caliber of player he is, you know it's going to be a close game and you have to keep it within reason. You have to battle. We were able to match each other inning for inning ... unfortunately, one pitch decides it all."

Hamels, who struck out 11 in seven innings, made his only mistake in the seventh, when Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur hit a 1-0 changeup to right field for a home run.

"I was just trying to throw it away," Hamels said. "I was like, 'OK, he's an aggressive hitter, especially in a 1-0 count.' I thought if I just throw a nice, easy changeup in this situation, either he swings over the top of it or hopefully rolls over. He just went with it, threw the head out there and he hit it a lot further than I thought."

"To be honest with you, I was kind of hoping he'd throw that exact pitch to me, and he did," Francoeur said. "When he throws it good, you can't really hit it, but he hung it. It was probably the one mistake he made tonight. I put a good swing on it, and then Johan and [Francisco Rodriguez] did the rest."

The Phillies had chance to score in the seventh and eighth innings. Werth hit a leadoff double, but the inning ended prematurely because of Werth's baserunning error. He took off for third when Francisco hit a ball to shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes threw to third to get Werth for the first out.

"That's something that when you're in one-run games like that, mistakes definitely hurt you," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Mistakes always hurt you. They definitely show up and hurt you a lot more in the real close games."

But their best chance to score came in the eighth.

Rollins and Raul Ibanez opened the inning with singles to left field to put runners on first and second with no outs.

Polanco stepped into the batter's box. He ended Santana's no-hit bid in the sixth. He also entered the game second in the NL in batting (.321) while also batting .414 (12-for-29) with one double, two home runs and five RBIs in his career against Santana.

But Polanco bunted to advance the runners and avoid the double play.

It didn't work. Polanco's sacrifice-bunt attempt went toward third base, but Santana fielded the ball quickly and threw to third to get Rollins for the first out.

"When I first hit it, I thought it was a better bunt," Polanco said. "It wasn't. I should have bunted it harder. He was pretty smart about it. He threw me a changeup for a strike. I wasn't able to really hit it hard. And he got off the mound really quick and made a really good play."

Polanco said he was not surprised to bunt the ball in that situation, despite his success against Santana. Only four players with 25 or more plate appearances against Santana -- Matt Diaz, Reed Johnson, Derek Jeter and Bengie Molina -- have had better success against him than Polanco.

"I didn't think about anything," Polanco said. "I was just looking at the sign. Whatever they gave me, I was going to do. I wasn't really thinking about what I had done in the past. I was just trying to get him over and win the game."

Manuel said he would have had Polanco, who also has grounded into 10 double plays this season, bunt again.

"Good baseball," he said. "Didn't get it done."

Mets manager Jerry Manuel called Rodriguez from the bullpen to pick up the five-out save. He got Mike Sweeney to line out to Mets first baseman Ike Davis. Werth walked to load the bases, but pinch-hitter Ross Gload grounded out to end the inning.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.