Finders Keepers

Published 1:46 am Monday, July 12, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies just keep finding ways to win.

Cole Hamels tossed six-hit ball into the eighth inning, Jimmy Rollins drove in the only run and the Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds with a 1-0 victory Sunday.

What a way to sweep.

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The Phillies started the series with three game-ending wins in extra innings for the first time in team history, and finished it with consecutive 1-0 victories for the first time since April 18-19, 1913, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With their offense in a funk, the pitching staff tossed 21 straight scoreless innings.

Oh, and Philadelphia scored six runs in the ninth to stun the Reds on Friday.

“It was more than expected,” Philadelphia right fielder Jayson Werth said. “It was a lot like the Phillies teams of the last couple of years.

The two-time defending NL champions enter the All-Star break 4 1/2 games back of NL East-leading Atlanta — and ready to make a second-half charge.

“I’d like to be in first place,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I don’t see why anybody would say they like trailing. It doesn’t mean we won’t catch somebody and end up winning it.”

Hamels (7-7) struck out three, walked three and didn’t allow a run for the first time in 18 starts this season. J.C. Romero fanned the only batter he faced in the ninth, and Brad Lidge got the final two outs for his sixth save.

Lidge has struggled since his 41-for-41 save season in 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series. He was booed when he entered the game but claimed he was so locked in, he didn’t hear the traditional Philly sound.

“If I’m not mistaken, I heard them all cheering there at the end,” Manuel said. “I might not be too smart but my ears are still good.”

The fans had plenty to cheer the rest of the series.

Rollins won Saturday’s game with an 11th-inning single after Reds starter Travis Wood took a perfect game into the ninth. The Phillies scored six times in the ninth to tie the game Friday night and won on Ryan Howard’s two-run homer in the 10th. Brian Schneider hit a game-ending homer in the 12th in the series-opener Thursday night.

They only needed Hamels and nine innings to send the Reds stumbling into the All-Star break.

The left-hander tossed the best game of his season to win for the first time since June 13, after going 1-5 over his last eight starts. Hamels worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and was never in serious trouble after that.

“It’s nice to get out of that inning because that’s a momentum changer,” Hamels said.

He was yanked after surrendering a two-out double to All-Star Joey Votto in the eighth, and Hamels walked off to a standing ovation from the 84th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park.

Jose Contreras walked Scott Rolen, then retired Jonny Gomes on a grounder to end the rally.

Matt Maloney (0-2) allowed a run and four hits in six innings, but the Reds remain stuck on 49 wins. They were trying to win 50 before the All-Star break for the first time since 1994.

“We’ve been knocking on 50 for a long time here,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Going on three days. It seems like a month.”

Instead, they were swept in a four-game series in Philly for the first time since 1975.

“We’ll try and erase these four games here and get back on track,” Gomes said. “It’s been a tough stretch on the road.”

The Phillies went 0 for 2 on replays after two doubles were not changed into home runs.

Carlos Ruiz led off the third inning with a ground-rule double when a fan reached over the fence and touched the ball. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel came out to argue and the play went under a brief review. The double stood and Ruiz scored on Rollins’ single.

Jayson Werth hit a drive to deep center in the fourth that was caught by a fan, and Manuel sauntered out to protest that the ball had cleared the wall. Replays clearly showed the fan leaned over the rail and Werth had a double.

Notes: Howard was hit by a pitch twice. … Phillies 3B Placido Polanco (elbow) will head to Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday and begin a minor league rehab assignment by the end of the week. … Manuel, his coaching staff and Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay were presented with their All-Star game jerseys during a pregame send off. … The Phillies were the first team to have three straight game-ending wins in extra innings against the same team in extra innings since Seattle vs. Texas in 2002.