The 26-year-old left-hander looks to win consecutive starts for the first time in nearly two months as the Phillies continue their three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Wolf has teamed with Kevin Millwood to give Philadelphia a tough 1-2 punch atop its rotation. But after opening the season 9-3 with a 3.16 ERA over his first 16 starts, Wolf encountered his first bout with adversity.
He was 2-4 with a 4.22 ERA following a four-game win streak from June 1-26, before breaking out of the slump with Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Brewers.
Wolf established a career high with his 12th win of the season, allowing two runs and six hits over seven innings, while striking out seven and walking two. His outing also featured the return of his effective change-up, a pitch he dropped from his repertoire recently because he hadn’t been able to control it.
“I threw one bad one and, luckily, (a long shot by Keith Ginter) blew foul,” Wolf said. “It was good to get some bad swings on change-ups which I hadn’t had in two starts.”
The Phillies’ five-game winning streak was snapped with Tuesday’s 6-4 loss in the opening game of the set. Mark Smith hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the bottom half of the eighth inning for Milwaukee, which has lost four of five.
However, the Phillies maintained their half-game lead over Florida in the NL wild card race when the Marlins lost 10-2 at Colorado.
“It’s a great feeling—kind of like everything goes silent,” Smith said. “It’s one of the best feelings you can have.”
STANDINGS (through Aug. 18): Phillies - 2nd place, 11 1/2 GB, NL East. Brewers - 6th place, 16 1/2 GB, NL Central.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Wolf (12-7, 3.46 ERA). Wolf is 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Kinney (7-9, 4.90 ERA). Kinney is 0-1 with a 3.66 ERA over his last three starts, including Friday’s 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old right-hander was reached for three runs—one earned—and five hits over 5 2-3 innings, striking out five and walking one. Kinney makes his first career start against Philadelphia.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .319 avg.; Jim Thome, 34 HRs, 96 RBIs and 82 runs; Jimmy Rollins, 16 SBs. Brewers - Scott Podsednik, .306 avg.; Richie Sexson, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs and 75 runs; Podsednik and Eric Young, 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - LHP Wolf leads NL left-handed starters with 140 strikeouts and 158 2-3 innings pitched. … The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 on the road. … 1B Thome hit his 34th homer Tuesday, tying him with Deron Johnson for the most by a Phillies first baseman. Johnson hit 34 in 1971. … Brewers - 1B Richie Sexson is batting .329 (26-for-79) with six homers and 15 RBIs over his last 22 games. … Before Tuesday’s game, the Brewers traded 2B Eric Young to San Francisco for RHP Greg Bruso. Bruso was assigned to Double-A Huntsville. The Brewers purchased the contract of OF Jason Conti from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Young’s spot on the roster. Conti pinch-hit in the seventh and singled. … RHP Ben Sheets left Tuesday’s game after one inning with a right rotator cuff strain. Manager Ned Yost said Sheets would be evaluated Wednesday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 30-29 on the road; Brewers - 22-39 at home.
INJURIES: Phillies - 3B David Bell (back), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL. Brewers - INF Wes Helms (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Ford (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Ruben Quevedo (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Glendon Rusch (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (shoulder), 60-day DL.