PHILADELPHIA --- Cole Hamels was so dominant the Milwaukee Brewers were glad to see Brad Lidge come in. The switch to their perfect closer nearly cost the Philadelphia Phillies.
Behind their top two arms, the Phillies grabbed their first postseason victory in 15 years -- barely.
Hamels pitched eight brilliant innings, Lidge escaped a ninth-inning jam, and Philadelphia took advantage of Mike Cameron's miscue in center field for a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in their playoff opener Wednesday.
Chase Utley's two-run double slipped out of Cameron's glove in the third, helping the Phillies take a 3-0 lead on three unearned runs. Lidge allowed a run in the ninth but struck out Corey Hart with runners at second and third to end it.
"I can't let him get a hit there," said Lidge, who was 41-for-41 in save tries this year. "I've always been a strikeout pitcher and that's what I wanted to do."
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is today, with ace CC Sabathia going to the mound for the wild card Brewers on three days' rest for the fourth consecutive start. Brett Myers pitches for the Phillies.
It'll be tough for anyone to match Hamels' superb performance. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 14 batters and allowed two hits, striking out nine.
The Brewers got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Prince Fielder fanned for the second out. After J.J. Hardy walked to put two runners on, they advanced on a wild pitch. Then Hart struck out swinging to end it.
The Phillies won despite getting just four hits.
The NL East champions were swept out of the first round by the surging Colorado Rockies last year. Hamels lost the opener of that series.
"I learned what it really takes in trying to kind of mellow out, not have that sort of excitement where you can't really control everything," he said.
Making his second start since returning from surgery for a torn knee ligament, Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo got rattled after his defense fell apart in the third. The 22-year-old righty allowed three unearned runs and three hits in four innings, walking five.
Gallardo became the second pitcher in major league history to start a postseason game without recording a win that year. He pitched in three games before he injured his right knee on May 1 and had a 1.88 ERA to go with four no-decisions.