Hamels turned in another dominant performance against Los Angeles on Thursday night, pitching a five-hitter for his third career shutout, and the defending World Series champions extended their winning streak to seven games with a 3-0 victory.
Hamels was the MVP of last year's NLCS and World Series. He won both starts against Los Angeles in the playoffs, including a 5-1 decision at Chavez Ravine that wrapped up the Phillies' first pennant since 1993.
For those wondering what the 25-year-old left-hander could possibly do for an encore this season, this was a good start.
"That's always something that kind of gets in your mind," said Hamels, 4-0 with a 2.84 ERA over his past seven outings. "I mean, you don't have the type of time off to really gather your thoughts and get prepared for another season. I had a little bump in the road with the elbow soreness, and that kind of delayed some things. But I'm ready to go now."
Hamels (4-2) threw 97 pitches, retiring 18 of his final 20 batters and allowing only two runners as far as second base -- one of them on defensive indifference in the ninth. He became the first opposing pitcher to throw a shutout at Dodger Stadium since Arizona's Brandon Webb on Aug. 5, 2007.
Hamels, whose 196 strikeouts last season were the third-most among lefties behind former Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia and Johan Santana, fanned five and walked none while lowering his ERA to 4.40.
"Sometimes I'll have a lot of strikeouts and sometimes I won't. But I don't want to be the big strikeout guy because it's hard on you and that really pushes up your pitch count," Hamels said. "My past three or four games I've been going 110 pitches and only getting through the sixth. So pitch efficiency is something I've been trying to work on."
The complete game was Hamels' fifth in 94 career starts, and the first this season by the Phillies' staff.
"This is one you just forget about, basically, and chalk it up to the fact that he pitched well," Juan Pierre said. "He threw strikes and we couldn't put any heat on him."
In his May 14 start against the Dodgers at Philadelphia, Hamels gave up two runs in seven innings and settled for a no-decision in the Phillies' 5-3 loss.
"The kid is good. What can you say? When he's on the mound, he ain't got time to be putting guys on base. He lets them make contact and he trusts his defense," Orlando Hudson said. "He throws strikes, he doesn't walk anybody, he trusts his offspeed pitches and does a great job of moving the ball up and down and in and out."
Los Angeles has the best record in baseball at 37-19, with Philadelphia right behind at 32-20. But in the Dodgers' past four games, they've managed two runs and 15 hits in 28 innings against the opponents' starting pitchers. They came into this four-game series leading the NL in team batting average and runs scored.
"You definitely don't want it to develop into a trend, but nobody's panicking around here," Pierre said.
Clayton Kershaw (3-4) threw 105 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, and gave up two runs and four hits. The 21-year-old lefty is 0-3 with a 6.64 ERA in four career starts against Philadelphia.
Kershaw was pitching for the first time in eight days. His scheduled start on Monday was pushed back to allow manager Joe Torre to insert Hiroki Kuroda back into the rotation after two months on the disabled list, keeping everyone else on their normal rest.
- RHP Brett Myers, who pitched the Phillies' previous complete-game shutout on Aug. 20 against Washington, underwent surgery on his right hip Thursday in New York, and will probably be sidelined for the rest of the season.
- Thursday marked exactly 45 years since the Phillies were no-hit by the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax in a 3-0 loss at Connie Mack Stadium.
- Hamels has not thrown a wild pitch in 344 2/3 innings since July 14, 2007, against St. Louis, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.