PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cole Hamels used an amped-up fastball in his latest dominant performance.
Hamels pitched eight strong innings and Chase Utley had a tiebreaking RBI single in the fifth inning to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.
Hamels (5-5) got the better of Tim Hudson in a matchup between starters who have combined for seven All-Star appearances. The Philadelphia left-hander gave up six hits while striking out 10 and walking one.
More noted for his changeup, Hamels has found an extra gear for his fastball over his last two starts.
After using it to shut down Atlanta in a 2-1 win last Saturday, Hamels frequently featured a heater that again touched the mid-90's.
"He's really gone with his fastball to set up his other pitches," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's got everything behind him. He's feeling very good; he's feeling strong."
Added Hamels: "Everything was coming out the right way. I wasn't having to put as much effort into each pitch."
Hudson (8-7) gave up two runs in six innings although both were unearned. The right-hander struck out six and walked two.
"You're hoping your guy gives you a chance, and that's what (Hudson) did," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "He pitched great."
The Giants, who were looking for their first four-game sweep in Philadelphia since 1998, lost for just the second time in eight games. San Francisco's lead over the idle Dodgers in the NL West dropped to 1 1/2 games entering this weekend's three-game series between the rivals at AT&T Park.
Despite the defeat, the Giants return home feeling positive after a 5-2 road trip.
"That's a really good road trip," Bochy said. "We've got a big series ahead of us. It's going to be a good, exciting series. It's what you play for."
Utley, Marlon Byrd and Wil Nieves had a pair of hits for Philadelphia, which snapped its four-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in nine games.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 24th save in 27 opportunities to stop a rocky stretch. Papelbon blew his third save in Tuesday's 9-6, 14-inning defeat and took the loss in Wednesday's 3-1 loss.
He was booed upon entering the field and then again when he was introduced by PA announcer Dan Baker.
Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 inning to tie Goose Gossage for 21st place on the all-time save list with career save No. 310.
Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard wasn't in the lineup for the second straight day as Sandberg has decided to look elsewhere to find production from first base. Howard has been in a power drought with just one homer since June 19 and his .224 average, .377 slugging percentage and .682 on-base plus slugging mark are well off his usual production.
The move was eye-opening considering the three-time All-Star and former MVP's dominance against Hudson, against whom he has batted .328 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 67 career at-bats.