(Sports Network) – The Philadelphia Phillies have been shaky the past two weeks but will try to continue their recent dominance of the Florida Marlins when the two NL East inhabitants begin a three-game series tonight from Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies are 9-3 against the Marlins this season, including a 5-1 mark as the host, and have won 22 of the previous 30 meetings between the clubs.
Philadelphia has lost five of its last 11 games and failed in its big for a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with Wednesday’s 7-4 loss in the series finale. Kyle Kendrick allowed four runs in the first inning and lasted four innings on the hill, allowing six runs — two earned — and seven hits.
“This is not a game where it’s do or die,” Kendrick said. “We would have liked to win the game, but they’re trying to win, too.”
Shane Victorino drove in two runs, while Chase Utley went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Phillies, who are six games ahead of Wild Card- leading Atlanta in the National League East standings. Outfielder Raul Ibanez hopes to return to the starting lineup and has not played since Sunday because of a sore left groin.
The Phillies moved Sunday’s game up to Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader with the Marlins. The switch was made with Hurricane Irene expected to wreak havoc in the area. Roy Halladay will pitch Game 1 of the doubleheader and will face Anibal Sanchez. Cliff Lee will pitch Game 2. The Marlins have not announced their starter for the night game.
Roy Oswalt gets the nod for the Phils tonight and is 2-0 in his last three starts. He threw eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win at Washington on Saturday and struck out nine batters, lifting his record to 6-7 in 16 starts to go along with a 3.51 earned run average.
The right-hander is 3-2 in six home starts this season and 6-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 15 career starts against the Marlins.
Florida split a doubleheader with Cincinnati and will begin an eight-game road trip tonight against the Phillies and Mets. After recording a 6-5 win in the first game with the Reds thanks to home runs by Logan Morrison and Jose Lopez, the Marlins dropped the second test by a 3-2 score.
“They battled back,” said Marlins manager Jack McKeon. “They did the best they could, but we had opportunities. Once again we got bit by that first inning. You’re down 3-0, and we don’t start hitting until the sixth or seventh inning’s tough. But you’ve got to be proud the way they came back. They didn’t give up, they’ve been playing great the last couple of days, and that’s a good sign going on the road.”
McKeon is counting on Clay Hensley to get the club back into the win column when he toes the rubber tonight. Hensley is 1-5 with a 5.47 earned run average in 27 games (7 starts) this season and lost at San Diego in Saturday’s 14-1 blowout. He gave up seven runs and seven hits, including two homers, over 3 2/3 innings.
In 17 career games, three of which have been starts, against the Phillies, the righty is 1-1 with a 2.94 ERA.