Philadelphia Phillies manager Larry Bowa has been lamenting his team’s lack of offense for most of the season, but he has not had much to complain about lately.
Bolstered by the offseason additions of Jim Thome and David Bell, the Phillies were expected to have one of the best offenses in the National League this season. Instead, they have languished near the bottom of the league in most categories.
That has changed in recent days, something Bowa hopes continues when the Phillies open a three-game interleague series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
The Phillies, who have won seven of their last nine, just took two of three from the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. After dropping Tuesday’s series opener 5-3, Philadelphia won 8-1 on both Wednesday and Thursday.
“If we swing the bats the way we’re capable, we’ll win some baseball games,” Bowa said. “When you get eight hits from our seven and eight hitters, it’s going to make it easier.”
Catcher Mike Lieberthal said the Phillies are finally performing up to expectations.
“Our offense is really starting to hit,” Lieberthal said. “The key is our offense. Our pitching is as good as anybody’s.”
The Orioles lead the all-time series with the Phillies 17-13.
STANDINGS: Phillies - 3rd place, 7 1/2 GB, NL East. Orioles - 4th place, 11 1/2 GB, AL East.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Brandon Duckworth (3-2, 4.98 ERA). Duckworth will be making his first start in more than two weeks and will be on a limited pitch count. The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed no more than two earned runs in three of his four most recent outings. On June 10, he worked 5 1-3 innings, giving up two runs and four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Angels. Duckworth did not get a decision in his only previous start against the Orioles, despite allowing just two earned runs in seven innings.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Johnson (6-3, 4.08 ERA). Johnson has not lasted past the sixth inning in five consecutive starts. On Sunday, he allowed three runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings in an eventual 9-3 win over Atlanta. In four career games against the Phillies, the 29-year-old right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Lieberthal, .327 avg.; Thome, 18 HRs and 53 RBIs; Bobby Abreu, 50 runs; Jimmy Rollins, 9 SBs. Orioles - Mora, .370 avg. and 48 runs; Tony Batista, 14 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 57 RBIs; Jerry Hairston Jr., 14 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Phillies - 5-6. Orioles - 5-10.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - 3B Bell is 7-for-14 with three RBIs in his career against RHP Johnson. … 2B Placido Polanco leads NL second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage. He’s made two errors in 56 games. … LHP Rheal Cormier has pitched 9 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings. Orioles - The Orioles have reached double figures in hits in 24 of their last 34 games. … 3B Batista has homered in three straight games. He’s 4-for-12 in those games. … Baltimore is 31-1 when leading after eight innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 18-18 on the road; Orioles - 17-19 at home.
INJURIES: Phillies - INF Tyler Houston (finger), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL. Orioles - INF Hairston (leg), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL.