Ace left-hander Cole Hamels makes his first start in over a month as the Phillies and Cardinals continue their series at Busch Stadium. Meanwhile, the Cardinals' starter is still listed as a game-time decision.
Hamels (14-5, 3.50 ERA) has been sidelined since August 17 with a strained left elbow. Representing the team’s first home-grown All-Star pitcher since Randy Wolf, the 23-year-old notched 156 strikeouts in 25 starts before going on the shelf. His last start came Aug. 16 at Washington, shutting out the Nats over 6 2-3 innings for the win. Hamels tossed a 55-pitch bullpen session last Saturday and indicated all systems were go.
The offense tries to continue its torrid hitting against St. Louis’ mystery pitcher. The Phils jumped all over the Cards to take 11-0 and 12-3 leads through 6.0 innings before the Cardinals came back to score 6 runs in the 7th inning and 2 more in the 8th. The sluggfest included two Ryan Howard homers, including his second grand slam of 2007. Aaron Rowand went 3-for-5 with two homers. Jimmy Rollins also belted a three-run shot.
Best of the press notes: In their last 60 games against the NL Central, the Phillies are 39-21 (.650), dating to last season ... For his career, opponents are hitting .215 (51-237) against Hamels with RISP, including .163 (13-80) in his last 18 starts (Phillies are 13-5) ... Rollins is hitting .324 (71-219), 7 HR, 29 RBI, 43 R in his last 49 road games.