Hamels stays unbeaten vs. Reds as Howard, Phillies win fifth straight

CINCINNATI -- Whenever Cole Hamels comes to town, he thinks about the first time he was on a major league mound.

It was here. And it was impressive.

The left-hander added another win to his resume of success in Cincinnati, going six innings to stay unbeaten against the Reds, and the Philadelphia Phillies held on Tuesday night for a 4-3 victory, their fifth in a row.

The NL East leaders matched their longest winning streak of the season behind Hamels (2-2), who made his big league debut on May 12, 2006, giving up one hit in five innings at Great American Ball Park. He's always been tough on Cincinnati's predominantly left-handed lineup.

"It's kind of a special place, kind of where everything started for me," said Hamels, who is 3-0 at Great American. "I want to make an impact every time I come here. I know they probably don't want to see that, but that's kind of my goal."

He reached it, with help from some of the Phillies' old dependables.

Ryan Howard hit a solo homer and slumping Jimmy Rollins doubled and scored during Philadelphia's decisive three-run fifth inning off Johnny Cueto (4-2).

Hamels has allowed five earned runs in 36 career innings against the Reds. He improved to 4-0 in five starts against Cincinnati, which got solo homers from Jay Bruce and Jerry Hairston Jr.

The Reds have lost a season-high four straight because their depleted offense is in a rut, scoring four runs in the last 28 innings. They wasted a chance in the ninth.

Closer Brad Lidge had given up runs in six of his last eight appearances while boosting his ERA to 8.31. He allowed an infield single to Alex Gonzalez and walked Laynce Nix with one out in the ninth before striking out Willy Taveras, who is in an 0-for-19 slump, and retired Hairston on a routine fly.

"We got runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth, but we couldn't get that big hit," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We had Lidge on the ropes there. We were one hit away."

Howard led off the second inning with a homer, and the Phillies went up 4-1 with three runs in the fifth.

Rollins, the Phillies' dynamic leadoff hitter, has gone 8-for-22 during the winning streak, raising his average to .223 and offering hints he's getting his game together.

"Just him, who he is, brings a lot to our lineup," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But when he's hitting good, that's when we're really good."

The defending World Series champions are trying to fix their rotation, which ranked last in the NL with a 6.35 ERA. Manuel demoted struggling Chan Ho Park to the bullpen on Tuesday, replacing him with left-hander J.A. Happ.

The Reds opened the series unsure when they would have first baseman Joey Votto back in the lineup. Votto, the Reds' top hitter at .366, came down with a severe case of the flu earlier this month and had to leave two games over the weekend in San Diego because of dizziness. He had more tests on Tuesday, and more were scheduled for the next few days.

The Reds really miss him.

"No question about it -- he's our best hitter. I know how he feels," said Hairston, who had the flu during spring training. "I was sick for six or seven weeks. Just when you think you're getting better, boom, it slams you again."

Game notes
Howard moved ahead of Johnny Callison for ninth place on the Phillies' career list with his 186th homer. ... More than 500 fans brought their dogs to the game, part of a promotion by the Reds. The dogs sat in the stands along with the 18,449 fans. ... The Reds put long reliever Nick Masset on the DL with strained muscles in his left side. Masset hasn't pitched since May 10. Right-hander Ramon Ramirez was called up from Triple-A Louisville to fill his role.