Hamels hammers Brewers, Phils close gap

HAMELSCole Hamels allowed no runs and just three hits in seven innings Friday as the Philadelphia Phillies pulled within one game of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. It was Hamels' second straight start in which he's let up no runs and surrendered four or fewer hits. Since breaking into the bigs with the Phils in 2006, Hamels has given up less than five hits in a scoreless start 13 times. In the divisional era (since 1969), only Curt Schilling and Steve Carlton have more starts with no runs and fewer than five hits allowed for Philadelphia.

Hamels used pinpoint control to shut down Milwaukee. Of his 39 off-speed offerings, 31 were strikes. That 79 percent figure is his second-best of the season. Of the 25 batters he faced, he started 19 with strikes. Only once has Hamels recorded a higher percentage of first-pitch strikes this season. Hamels controlled the inside of the plate as Brewers hitters went 0-8 with three strikeouts on "middle-in" pitches.

Lowest ERA in September, Active Pitchers

It should be no surprise that Hamels is pitching his best as the postseason draws near. His ERA in 20 career September starts is 2.76, his best in any month by a wide margin. Among the six active starters with the lowest September ERAs, three will be pitching for the Phillies down the stretch. That bodes well for the Phils prospects of bringing home a fourth straight division title for the first time in franchise history.

Other notes from Friday's MLB action:

Kevin Millwood fell to 3-15 in 2010 after allowing four runs in five-and-two-thirds innings as the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays. Since 1990, only one pitcher with at least 18 decisions has finished the season with a lower winning percentage than Millwood's current .167 mark. Jim Abbott went 2-18 (.100) for the Angels in 1996.

• In his first start vs the Orioles since allowing a career-high-tying seven earned runs in Baltimore on July 20, Matt Garza surrenders just one run as he picks up his 14th win of the season. Garza is now 9-1 in his career vs the Orioles, his most wins vs any opponent.

Cardinals Since August 9

• The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 to pick up a game in the NL Central. Friday is the first day since Monday, August 23 when the Cardinals won on the same day the Reds lost. Since the Cards wrapped a up three-game sweep in Cincinnati on August 11, it's just the second time in 23 days St. Louis has picked up a full game in the standings. Since August 9, the Cardinals are now 4-0 vs the Reds and 5-13 in all other games.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro registered a run and two hits as the Cubs won consecutive home games for the first time since July 23-24. Castro has now strung together five straight multi-hit games. Only five other shortstops have at least five consecutive multi-hit games this season.