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Preview: Phillies At Pirates

(Sports Network) - After closing out May with three straight losses, the month of June was a different story for Phillies veteran Jamie Moyer. Moyer will look to continue his success in July when he takes the mound tonight in the continuation of a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Moyer closed out June with three straight victories and went 4-1 with a 4.36 earned run average in five starts during the month. The only loss during that time was a dreadful showing at Boston on June 11, when Moyer was banged around for nine runs and nine hits in the first inning of a 12-2 debacle.

The 47-year-old left-hander hasn't allowed more than two runs in three starts since the Beantown beating and defeated Toronto the last time out in an 11-2 rout on Sunday. Moyer limited the Blue Jays to a pair of runs and six hits in seven frames to improve to 9-6 in 15 starts while lowering his ERA to 4.30. He also pushed his road mark to 5-4 in nine starts this season.

Moyer has faced Pittsburgh 15 times in his career, 13 of which have been starts, and is 5-6 with a 5.24 earned run average. Philadelphia hopes he'll be able to even that mark after it dropped the opener of this series, 3-2, last night in the Steel City. Wilson Valdez, filling in for injured All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, homered and Shane Victorino scored a run on a throwing error for the Phillies, who have dropped two straight and four of six contests to fall four games behind Atlanta for the NL East lead.

The news wasn't good on Utley, who's expected to undergo surgery on his injured right thumb and will miss about eight weeks. Placido Polanco (elbow) and Carlos Ruiz (concussion) are also sidelined for the Phillies.

Phils starter Cole Hamels suffered his fifth loss in the last six decisions despite going seven innings and holding the Pirates to three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts.

"I think we just have to keep staying with it. We've been so good for so long that you just things will fall in place and we'll just eventually win and pull it out. We have to get back to basics and show some fire," said Hamels.

Pittsburgh starter Daniel McCutchen displayed some heat in last night's win and lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits with four strikeouts. Octavio Dotel later stranded the tying run at third in the ninth inning to pick up his 17th save.

Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Bobby Crosby all knocked in runs, while Tabata's single to score Andy LaRoche in the fourth inning proved to be the difference.

"We're still not scoring a ton of runs but we're starting to swing the bats a little better. Scoring a couple big runs tonight, I think the guys are starting to relax a little bit," said Pirates manager John Russell.

Russell's club has won two straight and three of four games since getting swept in back-to-back series at Texas and Oakland. The Buccos, though, are still last in the NL Central standings.

Still searching for his first win since August of last season, Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf will make an attempt for success tonight. Ohlendorf is 0-6 with a 4.90 earned run average in 11 starts this season and is coming off a no- decision at Oakland on Sunday. In the 3-2 loss to the A's, he pitched well and held them to a pair of unearned runs and two hits in six innings.

Ohlendorf seems to have settled down from his previous erratic appearances and hasn't tasted victory since beating Milwaukee last August 18, when he fired seven innings of one-run ball in a 5-2 triumph. The right-hander is 0-3 in six home starts this season and 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two career outings against the Phillies.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh split a two-game series back in March, but the Phillies are 7-4 in the previous 11 matchups.