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Phillies sweep Reds, punch ticket to NLCS

<font face="times new roman,times,serif">Cole Hamels' complete game gem sends Phillies back to NLCS.</font>

CINCINNATI — Cole Hamels, his hair and uniform drenched in
champagne, stood in the middle of the visitors' clubhouse at Great
American Ballpark, smiling from ear to ear and clearly basking in the
moment.

Just moments before, Hamels had put the punctuation mark
on a masterful pitching performance and did what he always seems to do —
dominate the Cincinnati Reds.

The 27-year old tossed a complete
game, five-hit shutout Sunday night in Game 3 of the National League
Division Series before a record crowd of the
45,399. In his 2-0 NLDS-sweeping victory over the Reds, the cool
California kid was absolutely masterful, sending the Philliesto nearly a week of rest before they meetAtlanta orSan
Franciscofor the NLCS beginning Saturday.


Hamels,
MVP of the 2008 NLCSand World Series, has had Cincinnati's number
since he made his major league debut with five innings of one-hit ball
at Great American Ballpark on May 12, 2006. Including postseason play,
he's 7-0 against the Reds, four of those wins at Cincinnati.

"That
was my first complete game," said Hamels, now 4-for-4 in playoff series
clinchers. "That's something special because I don't have 50 or 60
complete games in my pocket like [Roy] Halladay."

Hamels' performance
wasn't historic like Halladay's no-hitter on Wednesday, but Hamels
was nearly as dominant. Hamels, 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA in the regular
season, struck out nine, including four in a five-batter span in the
fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

The Reds, making their first
postseason appearance in 15 years, committed six errors in the last two
games of the series after finishing second in the NL with a club-record
.988 fielding percentage in the regular season. The NL's top offense
also stalled in three playoff games, managing just 11 hits.

Reds
manager Dusty Baker said the Phillies' domination had a throwback feel
to it.


"Maybe it was the Orioles with [Jim] Palmer, [Dave] McNally, [Mike] Cuellar, [Pat] Dobson," Baker said. "They
pitched. They really pitched. They're a very good team. We kept them in
the ballpark, kept their runs down. We just didn't push across many
runs. We pitched well today. But Hamels pitched better."

The Reds
did not have an extra-base hit until Ramon Hernandez doubled with two
outs in the seventh. Hamels allowed only two runners to reach second and
none of the Reds got to third. The Reds' third and fourth hitters — Joey Votto and Scott Rolen — were 2-for-21 in the series with one RBI.
He also got some help from his defense in the first when center fielder
Shane Victorino sprinted into the gap in left-center to grab Brandon
Phillips' liner with speedy Drew Stubbs on first.

The Phillies
put the games first run on the board in the top half of the first.
Placido Polanco singled with one out in the first. An out later, Ryan
Howard lofteda flyballinto shallow left. Jonny Gomes was positioned
near the warning track, and had no play.Jayson Werth followed with a
slow grounder to shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera's throw pulled Joey
Votto off the bag. Werth was safe on the error and Polanco scored to make
it 1-0.

The Phillies added to their lead in the fifth on a
two-out solo home run by Chase Utley. Reds starter Johnny Cueto had
struck out Utley in the third with a fantastic slider and tried to
go back to it, but hung itout over the plate. Utley, greeted with
loud boos before each at-bat, crushed the pitch into the right-center
field bleachers to put the Phillies ahead 2-0.


Umpires reviewed Utley's
drive to see if a fan interfered with the ball, but the
replays were conclusive and the call was quickly upheld. It was
his 10th career postseason homer, moving him pastWerth and into first
on the club's career list.

The two runs were all that Hamels and
the Phillies would need. He got Votto to ground into a double
play after Phillips' leadoff single in the ninth, then struck out
former Phillie Scott Rolen to end the game. Hamels pumped his fist and
the Phillies celebrated.


The lanky left-hander
threw 119 pitches in his first postseason complete game, 82 of them for strikes.
Hamels retired24 of 28 batters betweenDrew Stubbs'first-inning
leadoffsingle and Phillips'lead-offsingle in the ninth.

"I
have that sort of positive energy every time I come here," Hamels said.

 
 
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