Cole Hamels threw a five-hitter for his fifth career shutout, Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat Atlanta 3-0 Tuesday night to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Braves.
"When you have the guys we have, the organization has the core guys they want," Hamels said. "It shows signs of what we have and what we have to come. If we can be ourselves, we know we can win a lot of games."
Hamels (12-6) struck out six and didn't walk a batter to record his 11th career complete game and his first win in three tries since signing a $144 million, six-year contract July 25. The All-Star left-hander is 4-5 since going 8-1 the first two months of the season.
While Atlanta is chasing Washington in the division race, the five-time defending NL East champion Phillies are going nowhere. They've already lost as many games (60) as all of last year when they set a franchise record with 102 wins.
The Phillies are hoping this down season is a one-year aberration and they can return to contend in 2013.
"We're trying to find out where we're at," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Tonight was a good night for us."
Mike Minor (6-8) took the loss for the wild card-leading Braves, who had won eight of 10. Minor allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Hamels last threw a regular-season shutout on Sept. 1, 2009 against San Francisco. He tossed a five-hitter against Cincinnati to complete Philadelphia's three-game sweep in the 2010 NLDS.
The Phillies scored all their runs in the first inning.
Jimmy Rollins led off with a double down the left-field line. Domonic Brown then lined a double to left-center, hustling his way to second and sliding headfirst to reach safely because the ball was dropped.
After Chase Utley lined out, Howard drove an opposite-field shot out to left-center to make it 3-0.
That's all Hamels needed. He dominated the Braves by mixing all four of his pitches, including a sharp fastball with his trademark changeup. Hamels didn't allow a runner to second and faced two batters over the minimum.
"Give Cole a three-run cushion and it's awful tough," Chipper Jones said. "He's tough enough anyway. When he gets that far in front, it makes it tough on the offense."
The Phillies had 42,660 fans in attendance after Monday night's crowd of 41,665 halted the team's consecutive sellout streak at 257 games - the third-longest in MLB history, according to the club. The streak started on July 7, 2009.
The Braves, who entered three games behind the Nationals in the division, hadn't lost to the Phillies since May 3 at Turner Field.
"Hamels got better as the game went on," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He just got stronger and stronger."
Notes: Braves 2B Dan Uggla, batting .136 in the last 51 games, wasn't in the lineup because he's 8 for 55 against Hamels. ... Minor has allowed 23 homers, tied with former Phillies RHP Joe Blanton for most in the NL. ... Hamels made his 100th career start at Citizens Bank Park. He's 47-32. ... Howard has 38 homers and 109 RBIs in 127 games vs. Atlanta. ... The Braves were shutout for the sixth time this season. ... This was only the second complete game for the Phillies this season. Their starters had 18 in 2011. ... Atlanta's Tim Hudson (11-4, 3.45) faces Kyle Kendrick (4-9, 4.45) in the series finale Wednesday night.