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Hamels pitches Phillies past Reds in major league debut

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Cole Hamels' numbers in the minor leagues
suggested he was ready for big things.

His major league debut suggested the same.

The 22-year-old left-hander pitched five shutout innings on a
raw, rainy night Friday, leading the surging Philadelphia Phillies
to an 8-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

"That was probably the first game I've ever thrown in the
rain," said Hamels, who gave up one hit in five innings. "We
don't have much rain in San Diego. I was kind of anxious to just
get it over with."

With his 93 mph fastball and swing-stopping changeup, he's just
getting started.

He struck out boyhood favorite Ken Griffey Jr. the first time he
faced him, then later struck him out again. He struck out seven
overall and allowed only Felipe Lopez's two-out double in the fifth
inning.

The only thing he didn't get was the victory.

"For his first outing, he did very good," manager Charlie
Manuel said. "He's smooth. He looks like a pitcher."

Shane Victorino had four hits, including a two-run homer, and
Ryan Howard added a two-run shot that kept Philadelphia rolling.
The Phillies have won 11 of their last 12 games, a stretch that
includes one impressive streak -- nine straight victories -- and one
equally impressive debut.

"I think he's a little deceptive," said outfielder Austin
Kearns, who went 0-for-2 against Hamels. "I think he's a guy you
need to see a few times. He has a good changeup. He was solid."

Hamels didn't get the victory because the guy he replaced in the
rotation couldn't hold on. Ryan Madson (2-2) gave up solo homers to
Kearns and Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth, tying it at 2.

Outfielder Adam Dunn, making his first start of the season at
first base, let Jimmy Rollins' grounder deflect off his glove for a
two-base error that opened the seventh, and Chase Utley followed
with a single off Elizardo Ramirez (1-3), putting the Phillies
ahead to stay.

The Phillies then pulled away against Cincinnati's bullpen.
Victorino, starting in center for the injured Aaron Rowand, had two
singles, a double and a two-run homer in the ninth.

Leading 8-2, the Phillies wound up having to use closer Tom
Gordon after Julio Santana loaded the bases and then walked in a
run. Gordon got the last two outs for his 11th save in 12 chances.

Hamels' long-awaited arrival was a big moment for Philadelphia,
completing his tear through the minors. He dominated in three
Triple-A starts this season, piling up double-digit strikeout
totals every time out.

The NL's highest-scoring lineup hit only a few balls hard off
Hamels, who pitched fast and kept his nerves in check as he worked
through a power-laden lineup getting its first glimpse of him.

The first time Griffey came to bat, he struck out on three
pitches -- a changeup froze him for the final strike. The next time
up, he walked on four pitches. Then, he struck out again on a
changeup.

"I grew up watching him in grade school," Hamels said of the
36-year-old outfielder. "I collected his baseball card. I don't
know if I'm going to be able to go up and ask for his autograph.
Facing him and striking him out was a big deal for me."

The only telltale sign of nervousness came in the second inning,
when Hamels walked the bases loaded before striking out Ramirez on
three pitches.

"The strike zone definitely shrinks here," Hamels said.

Manuel decided to pinch hit for Hamels with the bases loaded and
two outs in the sixth. Abraham Nunez struck out in his place.

The Phillies played their first game without Rowand, who broke
his nose when he crashed into the outfield wall while making a
catch on Thursday night. Rowand was placed on the disabled list and
is expected to be sidelined for 15 to 20 days.

Game notes
The Phillies called up OF Chris Roberson from Triple-A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Rowand's spot. ... Victorino has 10
hits in his last 13 at-bats. ... The Phillies are 8-4 on the road
with 20 homers. ... The Reds released LHP Jung Keun Bong, who came
to Cincinnati as part of the trade for reliever Chris Reitsma in
2004. Bong was sent to the minors during spring training. ... OF
Ryan Freel went 0-for-3 and left the game in the sixth inning with
a tight groin. Freel is 2-for-26 in his last eight games. ...
Ramirez struck out a career-high seven.