MIAMI -- Cole Hamels has every reason in the world to pitch like he pitched Monday at Marlins Park.
First and foremost, he is a fierce competitor.
"I play to win," he said following his second consecutive shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Marlins. "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 is just the third Phillies pitcher in the last 20 seasons to throw consecutive shutouts. He joined Cliff Lee, who threw three straight last season, and Cory Lidle, who threw two straight in 2004.
Hamels improved to 13-6 with a 2.91 ERA. He ranks first in the National League in innings (163 2/3), top five in strikeouts (158), tied for fifth in wins, sixth in WHIP (1.11) and eighth in ERA.
If he continues to pitch like this, he could rocket to the top of the National League Cy Young Award conversation.
That is even more motivation for Hamels.
"I play to win every ballgame I can," he said. "With that, you get awards for it."
Hamels allowed seven hits, one walk and struck out five Monday against the Marlins. He is in the midst of a 22-inning scoreless streak in which he has allowed 14 hits and one walk and has struck out 15. He has allowed just two extra-base hits in that stretch.
"I've felt physically fine and strong," Hamels said. "I think I just really haven't been able to get that fluidity of just being able to let a pitch go and know exactly where it's going to go. I think that's where I've really been feeling it. Even in Washington [on Aug. 2], I felt great, but I gave up a home run and a couple runs there. But I felt really good there, and I think that's kind of where it started."
It was an interesting night in Miami. The Phillies and Marlins entered 2012 with high expectations. The Phillies had World Series aspirations following a franchise-record 102 victories in 2011. The Marlins believed they could rise to the top of the NL East standings after signing free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell in the offseason.
The Marlins would make an even bigger splash with a new ballpark and a TV show on Showtime to record every minute of it.
What could possibly go wrong?
It turned out plenty. The Phillies and Marlins occupied fourth and fifth place in the NL East, respectively, entering Monday night with just a half-game separating them in the standings. But the Phillies have played better recently. It likely won't be enough to push them into the postseason, but it will make them feel a little bit better about their chances in 2013.
The Phillies are 16-12 since the All-Star break, while the Marlins are 11-20.
The Phillies are 8-5 since the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, while the Marlins are 5-9.
The Phillies clearly looked like the better team Monday.
Hamels obviously helped. He threw a shutout in his previous start Tuesday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park and entered Monday with a 13-inning scoreless streak. He picked up from there.
"He was all right," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel joked.
"Cole Hamels was pretty good today," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Very good. Cole was outstanding, changeup was working. We faced one of the best lefties in the game. When he's going that way, you know it's going to be a tough night to handle offensively."
The Phillies got enough hits to give Hamels a comfortable lead. Chase Utley doubled to score Jimmy Rollins in the third inning to make it 1-0. The Phillies got a gift from Marlins third baseman Greg Dobbs, who booted a ground ball from John Mayberry Jr. to allow Juan Pierre to score to make it 2-0.
Pierre tripled with two outs in the fourth to score Rollins to make it 3-0. Erik Kratz's sacrifice fly to center field in the seventh scored Domonic Brown to make it 4-0.
"We left a lot of runners on," Manuel said. "We can always beat people more."
True, but with Hamels throwing like that, four runs is plenty.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.