CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Cole Hamels looked fine for the first three innings. After that, not so good.

The Minnesota Twins tagged Hamels for three runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth Thursday in a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hamels has struggled in the latter half of spring training. After allowing a total of three earned runs in his first three starts, he has given up 16 runs in his last three.

“Not good. I don’t know if I’ve really accomplished much,” Hamels said of his six starts this spring. “Luckily I do have one more start, which is nice. Things are starting to get where they mean something, so I have to be good to go.”

Hamels had retired seven straight batters before Delmon Young hit a line drive high off the left-field wall for a double. The Twins went on to score three times in the fourth, two on a double by Danny Valencia and another on Luke Hughes’ sixth home run of the spring.

After retiring the first batter in the fifth, Hamels allowed three straight batters to reach. The third hitter was Young, who popped a three-run homer to up the Twins’ lead to 6-0.

Young is hitting .424 (14 for 33) in 12 games this spring. The home run was the fifth Hamels has allowed in 24 innings.

“There were some really good pitches, but a few times I didn’t throw a couple of pitches with any conviction,” said Hamels, who struck out seven and walked none in 6 2-3 innings.

“I was thinking in my head I had two different pitches I could throw to a hitter and I just kind of agreed on one halfheartedly. I didn’t really go out there and give it everything I had and therefore I gave up a couple of hits with those pitches. So at the same time I really have to focus on whatever pitch is called, or what I believe in and go with it 100 percent,” he said.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was unconcerned with Hamels, who has had a history of giving up runs in spring training.

“He doesn’t have a feel yet,” Manuel said. “He might get it next time out. He might get it the first time he pitches in the big leagues in the regular season. It’s just a matter of time.”

While Hamels struggled, Nick Blackburn stymied the Phillies. Blackburn allowed six hits while striking out five and walking one in six shutout innings.

NOTES: Phillies 2B Chase Utley will likely begin the regular season on the disabled list, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted on Thursday. Utley was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee earlier this month and has not played in any of the team’s exhibition games. … Phillies 3B Placido Polanco missed his eighth straight game after hyperextending his left elbow March 15. Charlie Manuel said Polanco would return on Friday and get at least a couple of at-bats. … Philadelphia RHP Roy Oswalt said he felt fine one day removed from getting hit behind the right ear by a line drive while pitching against the Rays. Oswalt isn’t expected to miss his next turn in the rotation.

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


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