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PHI@MIA: Hamels tosses his second consecutive shutout

Thankfully for Mike Fiers, Milwaukee won't be playing any more games at Coors Field this season.

Fiers had the roughest outing of his impressive rookie campaign Monday against the Rockies -- he gave up eight earned runs in just two-plus innings. The bump in the road snapped his streak of nine consecutive quality starts which dated back to June 9.

The eight earned runs were more than he had allowed in his previous 62 innings, spanning nine starts and one scoreless relief appearance. Opponents had batted .188 against Fiers in that span.

As such, Milwaukee is hoping that the Fiers who's pitched well for most of the year takes the mound on Saturday against Philadelphia. But the Brewers will need more than just a solid pitching performance to top Cole Hamels and the Phillies.

Hamels became just the third Phillies pitcher to throw consecutive complete-game shutouts Monday when he blanked the Marlins in Miami. He joined Cliff Lee, who threw three straight last season, and Cory Lidle, who twirled back-to-back shutouts in 2004.

"I play to win," Hamels said after the start. "I'm not going to go out there and give up on a season that can be supposedly given up on already. I want to win every game I possibly can and start streaks right now that can transfer into next year. I think everything I do I try to make myself better. Ultimately, if it doesn't work out this year, hopefully it makes me better for next season and the season after that."

Hamels hasn't allowed a run in 22 innings, and has allowed just 14 hits and one walk in that stretch. He has allowed just two extra-base hits in that same span.

Brewers: GM Melvin believes in Axford
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Friday that John Axford will serve a prominent role in the bullpen next season, but whether he'll be the closer is up in the air.

"It's too early to say," Melvin said. "We believe in John. I believe in John Axford, I believe in his stuff, I believe in his character, his poise.

"I think there's 16 teams that they don't have the same closer they had at the start of the year," Melvin said. "That position, there's so much pressure on that closer role. You look at other teams. People are yelling for a change after four or five [blown saves]."

Axford is 18-for-26 in save opportunities after going 46-for-48 last year.

Phillies: Howard not up to speed on bases
Ryan Howard's left Achilles surgery has -- unsurprisingly -- affected his speed on the basepaths.

"He says he's OK," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was having a hard time getting out of the box. That's what I thought. That could have something to do with his back side and stuff, getting started. I'm sure he's going to have days when his foot feels better than other days. Sometimes it's easier to get loose. Sometimes it's not. Different days are different."

Howard's struggles running the bases have been noticeable, but Manuel said he expects the first baseman's running to be improved by next season.

"It takes a while, but he should be better," he said. "They're very happy with the way he's moving right now. I'm a little surprised he moves like he does because I've seen it the other way around."

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