- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | Ross Detwiler has miles to go before he can claim to be lumped into the same class of pitchers as Cole Hamels.

At 25, Hamels already owns a World Series ring, MVP awards from the World Series and National League Championship Series and 48 big league wins.

At 23, Detwiler would settle for one win in the majors at this point.

That milestone didn’t come Thursday night for the Washington Nationals rookie left-hander. Hamels was far superior, carrying a perfect game into the sixth and surrendering just one run in eight sterling innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-2 victory.

Detwiler, though, wasn’t to blame for this loss. In his return to the Washington rotation, the former first-round pick put forth one of the best of his 11 starts to date, allowing only one run in five innings. That wasn’t enough to earn him the win, but it was enough to earn him the praise of his organization.

This night belonged to Hamels, who briefly made a run at history but had to settle for a mere five-hit, 10-strikeout gem en route to a series sweep of the Nationals.

It didn’t take much time to recognize Hamels was in top form. He retired the first three batters in a snap — and was off and running from there. One by one, the hard-throwing lefty retired Washington’s batters with ease. Through five innings, not a single one reached base. And only a couple of them even managed to make solid contact.

Ian Desmond hit a line drive to the warning track in right field in the second, and Ryan Zimmerman scorched a line drive in the fourth only to be robbed of extra bases by third baseman Pedro Feliz. Otherwise, the Nationals were left impotent at the plate against Hamels.

It didn’t help matters that Wil Nieves injured his left hamstring while running out a grounder in the third, forcing interim manager Jim Riggleman to turn to backup Josh Bard. With Jesus Flores already out until March following shoulder surgery, the Nationals suddenly are down to one healthy catcher.

Whether they add another player or not, the Nationals need to find some offense somewhere. What had been a productive lineup most of the season has tanked in the past week. Washington has scored a total of three runs over its last 31 innings.

That puts added pressure on a young pitching staff, affording no margin for error. To his credit, Detwiler was up to the challenge in his first major league start since July 3.

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