During a disappointing season with few moments to embrace, the Philadelphia Phillies were able to break out the champagne the last time Cole Hamels took the mound.
While a similar toasting isn't likely Sunday, Hamels can lead the last-place Phillies to their first road sweep of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals in five years.
Hamels (8-6, 2.50 ERA) added to his outstanding season Monday, throwing 108 pitches over six hitless innings before three relievers finished off the 12th no-hitter in franchise history in a 7-0 win at Atlanta.
"I'm happy the outcome came out the way that it did, because this is truly one of the better experiences you can probably have in this sort of situation because it was a whole complete team effort," he told MLB's official website.
Hamels, who ranks third in the NL in ERA, is 6-1 with 1.90 mark over his last 11 starts. He did his part in his only defeat during that stretch, allowing an unearned run over seven innings in a 4-0 loss at Washington on Aug. 3.
The left-hander has gone 15-7 with a 2.58 ERA in 31 career starts versus the Nationals, including a 1-0 record and 2.57 mark in three meetings this season. After pitching well in two defeats, he did not factor in the decision Aug. 26 when he allowed three runs over seven innings in a 4-3 home win.
Now Hamels will try to pitch the Phillies (66-75) to their first sweep at Washington (79-61) since taking four straight in May 2009. Philadelphia is also looking to win six in a row overall in the series for the first time since 2011.
Ryan Howard had a two-run single and Domonic Brown hit his ninth home run in Saturday's 3-1 victory that gave Philadelphia its 11th win in the past 15 overall.
"Just one of those things," Nationals starter Tanner Roark said. "We're still in first. We can't really think about that at all."
Washington still owns the second-largest division lead in baseball despite having dropped seven of 11.
Jayson Werth is just 5 for 31 with two homers and seven RBIs when facing Hamels, though Scott Hairston has fared better with a .391 average and five homers in 46 at-bats.
Gio Gonzalez (7-9, 3.89) also opposed Hamels in late August, giving up three runs and six hits over six innings before the bullpen allowed the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Gonzalez (39) and Hamels (33) rank third and fourth, respectively, among NL lefties in wins over the last three seasons.
Gonzalez, 0-3 with a 5.09 ERA in his last four meetings with Philadelphia, is hoping to build on his first victory in two months. He allowed three runs and three hits over six innings in a 6-4 road win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
Grady Sizemore (6 for 11) and Ben Revere (8 for 19) have hit well versus Gonzalez, but Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd are a combined 6 for 35 (.171) without an extra-base hit.
Washington manager Matt Williams announced before the game that Rafael Soriano would be removed from the closer role after allowing 11 runs and 18 hits in 11 innings over his last 12 outings. Soriano has 31 saves in 38 opportunities.