CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Cole Hamels worked the kinks out of his delivery and got instant results.
Hamels set down the last 11 batters he faced, Ryan Howard homered again and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Tuesday.
“That’s pitching. I was able to make the adjustments,” Hamels said. “You just try to make one good pitch at a time, and that’s what I was able to do.”
Hamels, the first of the Phillies’ vaunted starting rotation to make this third spring start, walked the first two batters of the game and gave up two runs in the opening inning. The 27-year-old lefty followed with three perfect frames.
Howard hit his team-leading third home run of the spring. The slugger hit 31 last season, his fewest since his rookie season.
Howard led off the fourth inning with an opposite-field shot against Brian Matusz. He is 7 for 24 (.292) with five RBIs in nine exhibition games.
“He’s been staying on the ball pretty good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s been concentrating on staying on the ball, staying in the middle of the field. He’s getting there.”
Justin Duchscherer, who appeared in just five games the last two seasons for Oakland, made his first start for Baltimore and pitched two scoreless innings.
The two-time All-Star, whose debut was delayed by soreness in his left hip, hadn’t pitched since April 30 after hip surgery.
“I really didn’t know what to expect. My only goal today was to go out there today and be pain free, and that was accomplished,” Duchscherer said. “I wasn’t going out there for certain results. I just wanted to go out there and throw and come off the field and not feel like my hip was hurting, and that was accomplished.”
Manager Buck Showalter was satisfied with Duchscherer’s outing.
“He had a little anxiety. It was the first time he was out there what, 10 months?” Showalter said.
Four days after having a wart on the middle finger of his left hand removed, Matusz followed Duchscherer and gave up the home run to Howard. Matusz reported no ill effects from the procedure.
“It’s fine. I don’t think it’s an issue anymore,” Matusz said “I was getting into too many three-ball counts and putting myself in that position,” Matusz said. “I’ve got to get that out of my system here in spring training and be ready for the season, where I can attack the zone a little bit better and not be too fine. I think I was being too fine with some of my pitches.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)