Hamels throws 2 scoreless innings for Phillies

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Philadelphia Phillies&#39; Ryan Howard is reflected in the World Series trophy after Game 5 of the baseball World Series in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to win the series. &#40;AP Photo&#47;David J. Phillip&#41;</span></div>
March 4, 2009 7:00:52 PM PST
Cole Hamels returned to the mound for the first time since helping the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series and pitched two scoreless innings in a 9-2 win over Canada on Wednesday. "It was nice to get out there against a team that's competitive," said Hamels, who went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts in October. "These hitters are getting ready for the world classic and they want to be in prime hitting shape. (So it was about) knowing how to bear down, finding the location and throwing your pitch."

Hamels, the World Series MVP, last pitched on that rainy night in October, when Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays was suspended in the fifth inning. Against Canada, the 25-year-old lefty breezed through his outing with 24 pitches.

The Phillies held Hamels back earlier this spring because he threw a career-high 262 1-3 innings in the regular season and playoffs combined last season, more than any other pitcher in baseball.

"I just wanted him to get his feet on the ground, get his delivery in, his reps in," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "This is his first whack, he's got five more outings (down here) and today was great. ... it was good to see him on the mound, compete under control and get the required work in that he needed."

Hamels allowed the first two batters of the game to reach base, but escaped unharmed when he got Joey Votto to pop to short and Justin Morneau followed with an inning-ending double play. In the second, Hamels retired three of the four batter, including Phillies teammate Matt Stairs, who grounded out to first base.

On April 5 against the Atlanta Braves, Hamels will take the mound in the first opening day start of his career, hoping to live up to the hype he produced in the postseason last fall.

"You're always got something to prove," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "When the day comes where you don't have anything to prove, you'll go backward."

Newcomer Raul Ibanez hit a bases-clearing double to left-center off Vince Perkins to put the Phils in front 3-0. Ibanez has seven RBIs in six spring training games.

Ryan Howard (2-for-2) followed Ibanez with a sharp single to right to make it 4-0. Howard has five RBIs in six games. "He's swinging good right now," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Howard.

The Phillies had 10 hits against a Canadian pitching staff that's tuning up for Saturday night's World Baseball Classic opener against the United States.

Perkins allowed three runs on two hits in 2 1-3 innings for Canada.

Notes: Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer Casey Stern, who played center field and led off Wednesday, was the only Canadian player with more than one hit. He finished 3-for-5 with an RBI. ... Veteran reliever Dave Borkowski pitched a scoreless third inning. ... Right fielder Jayson Werth (shoulder) was held out of the starting lineup. Werth hasn't played in a spring training game yet, but is expected to play in a B game Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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