PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cole Hamels struck out nine in eight strong innings and Ryan Howard homered to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Hamels (8-2) allowed six hits and walked none while lowering his ERA to 2.58 and continuing his mastery of the Dodgers. He improved to 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Los Angeles. He also is 3-0 in three career postseason starts against the Dodgers.

The left-hander, who earned a no-decision in his last start despite allowing one run and one hit in eight innings against the Pirates, got just enough run support from Philadelphia’s sputtering offense this time.

The Phillies finished with just five hits and went 16 for 90 (.178) in the three-game series.

But one of those hits was Howard’s sixth-inning homer, his 13th, to right off Hiroki Kuroda (5-7) that gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. The Phillies had gone a season-worst 65 1-3 innings without a home run, and Howard had been 0 for 13 with six strikeouts previously against Kuroda.

Hamels cruised through most of the game with his only trouble coming in the seventh. Andre Ethier doubled to lead off and moved to third on Matt Kemp’s hard-hit single to right. Hamels got Juan Uribe to pop to second, struck out Marcus Thames and induced a pop to shortstop by Rod Barajas for the final out.

Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save in 14 chances.

Kuroda gave up a run, four hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out seven.

The Phillies squandered a chance to score in the fifth off Kuroda, leaving the bases loaded when Domonic Brown flied out to right to end the inning.

Kuroda was cruising along to that point, having retired 14 of the 16 batters he faced through 4 2-3 before Michael Martinez’s two-out triple to right. Kuroda then walked Hamels and seemed to lose the strike zone. Hamels went to second on a wild pitch that went behind Shane Victorino. Martinez started down the line, but retreated to third. The Dodgers then elected to intentionally walk Victorino, bringing Brown to the plate. After working the count to 3-2, Brown lifted the ball to right that was caught by a charging Ethier. Kuroda threw 28 pitches in the inning.

Philadelphia tacked on a run in the seventh off reliever Matt Guerrier on Brown’s fielder’s choice that scored Victorino, who had tripled.

Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins missed his fourth straight game with a bruised right knee, but manager Charlie Manuel said the shortstop could start Thursday’s game against the Cubs.

NOTES: Philadelphia’s Chase Utley sat out Wednesday’s game after playing a season-high five straight. Utley spent the first 1 1/2 months on the DL with right knee tendinitis before being activated May 23. … Despite a game-time temperature of 92 degrees, Philadelphia recorded its 155th consecutive regular-season sellout with a crowd of 44, 751. … The Phillies presented tennis legend Billie Jean King with a jersey in an on-field ceremony prior to the game.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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