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PHI@WSH: Hamels strikes out six in 6 1/3 solid frames

A preseason look ahead to Friday's series opener between the Phillies and Brewers would have shown a dream pitching matchup between two aces.

Instead, Cole Hamels and Yovani Gallardo are struggling to awaken from a nightmarish first two months of the season. They'll each look to shake loose from an early-season lull when the clubs meet at Citizens Bank Park.

Hamels, who signed a $144 million, six-year contract extension last July, was an All-Star and 17-game winner in 2012, but has limped to a 1-8 start and 4.43 ERA in 11 starts this season. The left-hander is 0-5 in May.

"It definitely seems like things aren't going his way right now," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after Hamels' last start, a 6-1 loss to the Nationals on Sunday. "It's something he's got to just battle through. I don't know what to tell him, except just keep pitching, keep battling through, and it'll change."

The Phillies have tread water through Hamels' struggles, though with Thursday's loss to the Red Sox they fell to two games under .500.

The Brewers, on the other hand, have free-fallen into last place in the National League Central with a 5-22 May. The Brewers have called on Gallardo five times in the month to stop the bleeding, but he has gone 0-4 without pitching into the seventh inning.

Gallardo has a 3-5 record and 4.79 ERA in 11 starts this season.

Brewers: Rough May almost over
• With Thursday's loss to Minnesota, Milwaukee locked up at least a share of the lowest winning percentage of any month in franchise history, dating back to 1969.

With a loss against the Phillies on Friday, the Brewers would tie the club record for losses in a month and set a new mark for worst winning percentage.

"It's been a rough month," manager Ron Roenicke said earlier this week. "We'll get it going, but this is tough."

• The club's six-game losing streak is its longest of the season.

Phillies: Utley still more than a week away from return
• Chase Utley fielded a few ground balls on Thursday but is still more than a week away from rejoining the Phils from a strained right oblique injury.

Utley is remaining cautious and said he might not be back until mid-June.

• Phillies rookie Cesar Hernandez made his first big league start Thursday at second base and hit second.

Hernandez, on the 25-man roster while Michael Young is on the bereavement list, finished 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored.

Young left the team Wednesday. It is unknown when he will be back, but he must miss a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven.

Worth noting
• Despite a rough 2013, Hamels and Gallardo have each enjoyed success against the other's team. Hamels is 6-2 against Milwaukee with a 3.42 ERA, while Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA against Philadelphia.

• The Brewers are 7-16 on the road, winning just one series while losing five and splitting one.

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