SAN FRANCISCO -- Dogged determination manifested itself repeatedly for Cole Hamels, who showed fellow phenom Tim Lincecum a thing or three about keeping the game close enough for your team to win. That, the Phillies did, 8-5, over the Giants at AT&T Park. On ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Hamels never rattled despite making more bad pitches than he'd care to admit. Instead, he made damage-limiting pitches to survive, like overcoming a Wes Helms error that led to a run by striking out Pedro Feliz.
When Hamels committed a fourth-inning error on a sacrifice bunt that put runners on first and second with one out, he pounded his glove in frustration, showing rare emotion. Then he calmly whiffed Randy Winn and got Omar Vizquel to ground out. Simple. "I expect so much out of myself and want to do well," he said. "I can see things happen before they do, try to execute, and get a little ahead of myself. That's when I get myself in trouble. When I don't get it, I get frustrated. I had to take that deep breath and forget about that play." "He fought through it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He doesn't lose where he's at. He keeps it in perspective and has a feel for what's going on." Without his top stuff, Hamels allowed the tying runs to score in the fifth inning, helped again by a second Helms error (only three of the five runs Hamels surrendered were earned). He took that anger into his at-bat in the sixth and doubled. Jimmy Rollins took over and tripled in Hamels, who satisfyingly scored the go-ahead run. His emotions seemingly in check, Hamels was left to hit for himself in the seventh -- he struck out -- so he could pitch the bottom of the frame and get the ball to Geoff Geary, then Brett Myers. Rich Aurilia singled, and Hamels struck out Ray Durham and Bengie Molina and retired Pedro Feliz on a groundout, on his season-high 117th pitch. The talented lefty threw 84 strikes. "He was determined to get through the seventh," said Manuel, who had little hesitation about sending Hamels out for that frame. "That's what I like to see. That might have been the biggest thing about his performance. He knew exactly how far he was going to go. His fastball was good in that inning." "I think I pitch better when I'm tired," Hamels said. "Once I get in a groove and bear down more, I'm able to do better. The first inning is adrenaline, and I have to learn how to control that." Hamels had plenty of adrenaline coming into the much-hyped matchup against Lincecum. The game was supposed to be a confrontation between two pitching prodigies. Hamels, the team's first-round pick in 2002, soared through the Minors (14-4 with a 1.43 ERA in 36 starts, broken up by injuries) and was summoned last May. He entered Sunday night 12-9 with a 3.95 ERA in 29 big-league starts. Lincecum, the Giants' first-round pick last June, was 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA in five starts this season for Triple-A Fresno. That's not a misprint. Rollins led off the game with a single and scored on Shane Victorino's two-run homer, his first of the season. Victorino had a spectacular series, batting .588 (10-for-17) with one double, one homer, four RBIs, seven runs and six stolen bases. Not bad for a guy who loudly protested his two-game benching in Atlanta heading into this series. "Charlie got his attention," said Rollins, with a laugh. Added Ryan Howard, "He was huge. He got like 20 hits in this series. Victorino kept it in perspective. "I feel comfortable," Victorino said. "I have to stay hot. I'm just going out there and [trying to] do the things I need to do and not change my approach." After Hamels put the Phillies down, 3-2, Howard belted a homer. Lincecum left after 4 1/3 innings, having allowed five runs -- four earned -- on five hits and five walks. "He was throwing 98, 99 [mph]," Howard said. "He had a great hammer, too. Once he learns how to use it, he's going to be deadly." Hamels may already be there and gave Lincecum a survival lesson. Without his best stuff and without help from his defense, the lefty allowed eight hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Oh, and got the win.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.