LOS ANGELES — This was the debut stage for the lanky lefthander they called “Hollywood” before he even reached the majors, and it was appropriate. Five seasons somehow passed since Cole Hamels’ last appearance at Dodger Stadium. The Philadelphia Phillies unveiled their keystone here Wednesday, with another star pitcher, Zack Greinke, opposing him.
When Hamels re-signed for $144 million in July 2012, the affluent Los Angeles Dodgers opened their wallet and paid $159 million for Greinke. They did not sign him for his bat, which earned a silver slugger award in 2013, and tormented the Phillies.
A 5-2 Dodgers victory was spawned in the fifth inning with Greinke at the plate and Hamels on the mound. Greinke took five pitches to earn a two-out walk, the first Hamels issued to an opposing pitcher since June 19, 2012. The electric Yasiel Puig jumped Hamels’ first pitch, a fastball, and rocketed it into left for a go-ahead single. The Dodgers never trailed again.
There was only regret for Hamels, who lasted six innings and 86 pitches in his return from biceps tendinitis. He missed four turns through the rotation. His teammates built a .500 record in his absence and rode a three-game winning streak into Wednesday.
Greinke won the $303 million pitching duel. He struck out 11 in seven innings and departed when Jayson Nix barreled his 108th pitch — and first of the eighth inning — into the left-field bleachers. Los Angeles added three insurance runs after Hamels’ removal. They rolled.
It marked Hamels’ longest season-debut start since 2008, when he pitched eight innings in a 1-0 loss to Washington. His best work came in the sixth after Hanley Ramirez started the inning with a double to left. Matt Kemp hit a fly ball deep to center that permitted Ramirez to advance to third. He never moved from there: Scott Van Slyke and Juan Uribe both grounded out.
But the fifth inning is what would bother Hamels. He fanned Uribe and Justin Turner for the first two outs. Drew Butera, Los Angeles’ backup catcher and a career .180 hitter, slapped a 93-mph fastball to right for an opposite-field single. Greinke, who led all pitchers with seven walks in 2013, never swung the bat but prolonged the inning for Puig.
Ryne Sandberg said Hamels had no restrictions in his first start. But the Phillies manager pulled Hamels after 86 pitches with the bottom of Los Angeles’ lineup due in the seventh. He turned to Jeff Manship, a 29-year-old righty who lacks experience as a reliever in important situations. Greinke struck again with a two-out double. Puig blasted a hanging Manship curveball deep to right. He flipped his bat in celebration. Marlon Byrd overran the ball; it landed as a triple and plated another Dodgers run.