PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Rookie Cole Hamels is getting plenty of run
support. He's even getting in on the act.
Hamels struck out seven in six strong innings and helped his own
cause with a two-run single as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated
the Washington Nationals 11-2 on Saturday night. Ryan Howard highlighted Philadelphia's eight-run second inning
with his NL-leading 43rd home run. He also knocked in three runs to
raise his NL-leading total to 111. Shane Victorino had three hits and three RBI and Jimmy Rollins
had three hits for the Phillies, who remained 2½ games back of
Cincinnati in the NL wild-card race. "Every series is big and our goal is to win each series,''
Howard said. "If we do that, we'll be right there in the end.'' Hamels added his two-run hit in the Phillies' big inning. "I told Cole to forget about pitching and concentrate on his
hitting,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said with a laugh.
"Seriously, he's been working on his hitting. He's learning to
make contact.'' Alfonso Soriano hit his career-high 40th home run and became the
10th player in major league history with at least 40 homers and at
least 30 steals in a season. Alex Escobar also homered for the
Nationals. Fresh off the best start of his young career -- eight shutout
innings against the New York Mets on Monday -- Hamels (6-6) was
impressive again against Washington. The 22-year-old southpaw surrendered two runs on five hits,
walking one. In his last six starts, he has fanned 53 and walked
seven. And Hamels is receiving plenty of offensive support. The
Phillies have scored 62 runs in his six wins, including a 13-run
outburst on Monday against the Mets. "If you can get six to 10 runs a game, it will be tough to be
us,'' Manuel said. "I think we're capable of scoring more runs.'' Hamels appreciates the support. "It definitely gives you more confidence going back on the
mound,'' he said. Hamels handcuffed Washington with a nasty changeup and an
improving curveball. "I have the confidence in my changeup that I can throw it at
any time and that's important,'' Hamels said. Washington manager Frank Robinson was impressed. "He was very effective, especially with his off-speed
pitches,'' Robinson said. Philadelphia shelled starter Ramon Ortiz (9-11), sending him to
his shortest outing of the season. He gave up eight runs on five
hits in 1 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out one. Ortiz surrendered a bases-loaded single to Hamels, a RBI double
by Rollins and a two-run single by Victorino. Ortiz plunked the next batter, Chase Utley, with a pitch. Utley
took a step toward the pitcher's mound, but then turned to go to
first base, maintaining eye contact with Ortiz the entire way. Howard followed with a homer to center that landed in the
Washington bullpen, an estimated 458 feet away. One batter later, Ortiz hit Aaron Rowand square in the back and
was immediately thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Paul
Nauert. Rowand exchanged words with Ortiz and Utley came out of the
Phillies dugout but stopped after several steps. "I don't know (what went wrong), I couldn't throw a strike,''
Ortiz said. "I go inside. I have to go inside but I don't try to
hit a guy. I don't want to hit people. I have to throw inside.'' Ortiz, who has hit 14 batters this season, was replaced by Ryan
Wagner. "He didn't miss any bats tonight,'' Robinson said of Ortiz.
"He was frustrated I guess. I have no control at what he's
doing.'' And was he throwing at Utley or Rowand? "It doesn't matter what I think,'' Robinson said. Escobar ended Hamels' shutout with a solo homer to center field
-- his fourth of the season. Two batters later, Soriano launched a
long homer to left to make the score 8-2. Utley delivered a RBI sacrifice fly and Victorino added a RBI
double as the Phillies extended their lead to 11-2 in the fifth.
Howard's 43 homers is tied for fourth most on the Phillies
all-time single-season list with Chuck Klein (1929). Mike Schmidt
holds the record with 48 in 1980. ... Wagner collected his first ML
hit with a single in the third inning. ... The Phillies eight-run
inning tied the club's season-high (Aug. 9, vs. Atlanta, seventh
inning). ... Soriano is the eighth player in history to hit 40 or
more homers in an initial season after switching leagues joining
Frank Robinson, Jim Thome, Davey Johnson, Dick Stuart, Jim Edmonds,
Jeff Burroughs and Ken Griffey Jr.