Lost Their Lead

In Cole Hamels' last start, the Philadelphia Phillies put up what was then their highest run total of the season to extend their win streak with the left-hander on the mound.

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The Phillies haven't stopped producing since.

After beating the Florida Marlins to gain the NL East lead, the Phillies go for their seventh straight win with Hamels on the mound - and their sixth straight overall - as they continue their three-game series on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Philadelphia -208 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia -208 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Hamels (5-3, 3.18 ERA) struggled through his worst start of the season Sunday, giving up a season-high six runs in a season-low four innings. But the Phillies' offense bailed out its ace with 16 hits, including three home runs, in the 15-6 victory - Philadelphia's sixth straight win with Hamels on the mound.

"It's one of those things where you have guys who are power hitters and guys who also have good averages," said Hamels, who had pitched at least seven innings in nine of his first 10 starts. "They're going to put the ball in play, get a lot of hits. That's what we were able to do and that turned it around for us."

The Phillies (32-24) followed up that effort with a three-game sweep of Colorado during which they totaled 33 runs, including a new season-high 20 in the opener. Their hot hitting continued in a 12-3 victory over the Marlins (30-23) on Friday night, which gave Philadelphia the NL East lead for the first time since May 5.

"It's ridiculous," Friday's starter Brett Myers said. "I feel bad for anybody that has to pitch against us right now."

Chase Utley has been one of the catalysts for Philadelphia's surge. The All-Star second baseman has at least one hit in each game of the club's season-high five-game win streak, and is batting .381 (8-for-21) with four home runs and 15 RBIs during the run.

Friday's defeat was the third straight for the Marlins, and it could have been a costly one. Not only did they lost the division lead, but they also lost shortstop Hanley Ramirez to a bruised thumb after he got hit by a line drive.

X-rays were negative, but Ramirez's status for Saturday's game is unknown.

"I can't squeeze my thumb right now," said Ramirez, who's batting .292 with nine home runs, 23 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 42 runs scored. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow."

The Marlins would no doubt miss Ramirez, particularly against Hamels. The 2006 NL Rookie of the Year is 6-for-12 with four doubles and two walks against the left-hander, who's 2-2 with a 4.13 ERA in four career starts against Florida.

The unenviable task of trying to slow the Philadelphia offense falls to Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.70), who is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander allowed three runs in five innings of a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on Monday.

Nolasco is 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA in five career games - two starts - against the Phillies.

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