PHILADELPHIA — Cole Hamels was admittedly rusty in his first start after the All-Star break. The lefty was clearly missing his best stuff, had the high pitch count without all the strikeouts that usually go along with it, and retired the side in order only once.
But with the way the Phillies have been swinging the bats, his outing was good enough for a win.
Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Aaron Rowand homered, Pat Burrell added four RBIs and Philadelphia avoided its 10,000th loss again by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 on Saturday.
“When you’re struggling, there’s a confidence knowing if you give up a run here or there the team is going to answer back,” Hamels said.
Rowand finished 4-for-4 and Chase Utley knocked in two runs for the Phillies, who had 14 hits a day after compiling a season-high 23. Rollins and Burrell had three hits apiece.
“You’ve got to win the best way you can,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
The best way for now is outslugging the opposition. The highest-scoring team in the National League scored a run in five of the first six innings against the Cardinals and won for the third straight game.
Albert Pujols hit his 18th homer for the Cardinals — his second in two games.
Hamels (11-4) matched Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano as the only 11-game winners in the NL, and overtook Jake Peavy for the league’s strikeout lead (126-125). But the NL All-Star only had two Ks and gave up four runs in six innings in one of his few average performances of the season.
Every inning Hamels allowed a run, the Phillies bailed him out with runs in their half.
“I was more or less giving it away to the other team and the team just kept battling back and scoring a lot of runs for me,” Hamels said. “It definitely makes my job a lot easier.”
Most surprising was Burrell’s contribution. The slumping left fielder has found himself on the bench most of the last month with his .217 average and 38 RBIs.
Against Mike Maroth (0-2) and the Cardinals, Burrell rediscovered his once-dependable stroke.
Burrell’s two-run double in the fifth made it 7-4. He poked a two-run single the opposite way to right in the sixth for a 10-4 lead and earned a rousing ovation as he left for a pinch runner.
“He’s a huge part of this team,” Rowand said. “If we’re going to make the playoffs, he’s going to be a significant factor in why we made the playoffs. That’s what he brings, that’s what he’s capable of doing and everyone knows it.”
The six-run cushion was enough for Hamels. Ryan Madson and Antonio Alfonseca finished up and delayed Philadelphia’s inevitable 10,000th loss for at least one more game. If they win the series finale, the Phillies could reach the mark on their seven-game West Coast trip.
Philadelphia would be the first professional sports team to lose 10,000 games. The Phillies won their 8,810th game, pulling them within 1,189 wins of the .500 mark.
Rollins hit a leadoff homer, his 18th, and Howard added his 22nd of the season three batters later for a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals tied the score in the second on Maroth’s RBI single and David Eckstein’s sacrifice fly.
“We have to pick up the pitching and pick each other up,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Utley lined a two-run double to right in the second and Rowand hit his 12th homer in the third. Rowand’s shot off Maroth was of little surprise. Three of Rowand’s hits came off Maroth, making him 12-for-20 against the former 20-game loser.
“I knew he was pretty good against me and he did it again to me today,” Maroth said.
Maroth gave up nine hits and eight runs — six earned — in five innings.
Royals 6, Indians 5
CLEVELAND — Emil Brown hit a three-run homer in the third inning and the Kansas City Royals hung on for a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.
The Royals built an early 5-0 lead off ace C.C. Sabathia, but needed strong work from their bullpen to seal the win. Kansas City used four relievers with Octavio Dotel pitching the ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
Zack Grienke, Jimmy Gobble, Joakim Soria and Dotel combined to hold the Indians to one run over the last four innings.
Mark Teahen had three hits and scored three runs, and rookie Billy Butler had three hits and drove in two runs for the Royals.
Gil Meche (6-6) allowed five runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking one. He was pulled after Ryan Garko’s two-run homer in the sixth cut Kansas City’s lead to 5-4.
The Royals added a run in the seventh on a throwing error by third baseman Casey Blake. Travis Hafner’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to one again.
Kansas City jumped on Sabathia (12-4) from the start. The left-hander allowed six runs and 11 hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking two in his second straight loss.
Singles by Mark Grudzielanek and Teahen started the Royals’ rally in the first. Both runners scored on Butler’s double to right-center.
In the third, Teahen doubled with one out and took third on Butler’s infield hit. Brown homered to right on the first pitch to make it 5-0.
The Indians scored in the fourth. After Jhonny Peralta drew a two-out walk, Meche was hit by Garko’s smash back to the mound and the ball rolled behind second base for a single. Royals manager Buddy Bell and a team trainer visited Meche, but he stayed in the game. Trot Nixon followed with an RBI single.
Victor Martinez’s one-out single in the fifth scored Grady Sizemore, who had doubled.
Peralta led off the sixth with a single and scored on Garko’s homer.