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Struggling Braves fall to Hamels, Phillies 3-0

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POSTED: April 11, 2011 11:26 a.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — With a little offensive support, Derek Lowe might have three wins.

Instead, he has two losses, but the Atlanta Braves aren't panicking after a slow start at the plate.

Cole Hamels combined with two relievers on a five-hitter and Shane Victorino capped a big series with three hits, including his first homer, to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the Braves 3-0 on Sunday.

The Braves (4-6) are hitting only .229.

"Obviously, you want to score some runs and win some ballgames, but it's still early," first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he's not concerned "because this kid here, Hamels, was commanding his changeup both sides of the plate and his fastball."

Hamels (1-1) gave up four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings to beat Lowe (1-2), who was almost as strong. The right-hander allowed seven hits and two runs in seven innings.

Lowe has a losing record despite his 1.45 ERA. He gave up only one run in six innings in a 1-0 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday.

"We haven't given him the run support that he needed, which didn't have to be very much," Dan Uggla said.

Lowe wasn't shifting blame for the loss.

"I don't believe in quality starts," he said. "You either win or you lose."

Uggla, acquired in a trade with Florida to add power to the middle of the lineup, was 0 for 4, including a strikeout to end the game. He went 0 for 11 in the series and is hitting .158.

Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman is batting .188.

Victorino has five straight multihit games, including four hits in the Phillies' 10-2 win over the Braves on Saturday. He had nine hits as the Phillies took two of three in the series.

Each of Victorino's three hits came off Lowe. Entering the day, the switch-hitter was 2 for 24 in his career against the right-hander, according to STATS LLC.

"Shane did real good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He figured out Lowe a little bit."

With Lowe attacking the outside part of the plate, Victorino went the other way for singles to left field in the first and fourth innings. When Lowe came inside, Victorino turned on the pitch for a homer to right field in the sixth.

Victorino hasn't forgotten his past struggles against Lowe.

"I wouldn't say I figured him out," Victorino said. "Today was one of those days. ... I was able to stay on it longer than I usually do and slap it the other way."

Victorino is hitting .417 through 10 games.

Hamels rebounded after giving up seven hits and six runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 7-1 home loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday. It was the shortest season-opening start of his career, and he heard boos from the Philadelphia fans.

"I've been booed many times," Hamels said. "It's part of the game. You just go with it.

"If you get that response, it's the understanding that people know that you're good. They expect you to do well and when you don't, they're disappointed."

Hamels met those expectations against the Braves.

"I kept the ball low and I think that's a good-hitting team and I was able to make them kind of make mistakes," he said. "I got the key groundouts and a few good popouts."

Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and Jose Contreras worked a perfect ninth for his second save.

Victorino singled and scored from third in the fourth when Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play. Victorino's homer into the right-field seats to lead off the sixth increased the lead to 2-0.

The Braves' only hit through five innings came with the help of questionable positioning by Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez.

Nate McLouth hit a one-out double in the fourth over the head of Ibanez, who was playing unusually shallow. McLouth moved to third on Chipper Jones' fly to right but was stranded on Brian McCann's groundout to Hamels.

Freeman led off the sixth with a single but was stranded at second on Jones' grounder to end the inning.

Hamels began to tire in the seventh. Victorino raced to the warning track to catch McCann's flyball to open the inning. Singles by Jason Heyward and Alex Gonzalez gave Atlanta runners on first and third, but Freeman's grounder to Michael Martinez at second base ended the inning.

Rollins led off the ninth with a double off Craig Kimbrel and advanced to third when Heyward bobbled the ball for an error. Rollins scored on Ryan Howard's grounder to shortstop — Gonzalez considered throwing to the plate before taking the out at first base.

Carlos Ruiz, who had a homer and five RBIs on Saturday, had two hits for Philadelphia.

NOTES: Martinez made his first start at second base after one start in center field. He is the Phillies' third starter at second base, following Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr, with Chase Utley on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury. ... Rollins, the No. 3 hitter, is batting .324 but hasn't driven in a run this season. ... Attendance was 43,796.

 

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