CHICAGO -- The last time Cole Hamels pitched in Wrigley Field, he struggled with gripping his changeup after slicing his left index finger days earlier. The previous time Aaron Rowand suited up in this venerable old ballpark, his season ended when he stumbled on an uneven outfield, breaking his ankle. Each fared much better in leading the Phillies to a 4-1 win over Chicago in the first of four games. Hamels allowed one run on three hits in eight innings, and Rowand clubbed a three-run homer to pace Philadelphia.
"We survived," Hamels said. "It's great. We were able to overcome and get the full Wrigley Field experience." Not everyone survived in a game that cost the Phillies two of their fastest players and strongest outfielders. Continuing their season of unfortunate injuries, Shane Victorino (strained right calf) and Michael Bourn (sprained left ankle) were feeling better after the game, but will have MRIs performed on Tuesday. In the past week, the team lost Chase Utley and Ryan Madson for at least a month each, and now Victorino and Bourn, though they're listed for now as day-to-day. Yet, the Phillies have won nine of their past 10 games, bashing their way in most of them. In pulling within three games of the New York Mets, the Phillies relied on their ace. Heading into an Aug. 24 start last season, Hamels sliced his left-index finger with a Swiss Army knife while trying to open a plastic zip knot and unpack a box of dishes. He started anyway, and turned in the worst start of his career, when he allowed nine runs -- five earned -- on nine hits in two innings. He found it especially problematic when trying to grip his changeup, his best pitch. Eating dinner on Sunday night, friends warned him to be careful when cutting his food. "I went to cut my meal last night, and everybody's like, 'Don't do it, don't do it,'" Hamels said. "I was able to avoid everything tonight." Mostly, he avoided solid contact. "I was having such success with the fastball and change that I didn't want to change anything," Hamels said. "Eight innings later, it was a good game." "He's got one of the best changeups around," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot added. "It's always tough with him. His changeup looks like a fastball until it gets up on you and it's six miles an hour slower." Hamels dazzled through eight innings, and Brett Myers recorded his first save since May 20, pitching a scoreless ninth. Tadahito Iguchi, who also returned to the Chicago area days after the White Sox traded him to the Phillies, hit his first home run as a Phillie. Rowand delivered the biggest blow to Lilly when he cranked a three-run homer, his first home run at Wrigley Field. Players didn't do much celebrating after the game, especially as locker mates Victorino and Bourn hobbled around with tape around their injured areas. This caught Rowand's attention and he paused. "We've been battling injuries all year," he said. "We were talking about yesterday in the clubhouse and here we go again. It's tough to enjoy a win when you lose two guys in the same day. Guys are going to have to step up. We've been doing it all year."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.