The Philadelphia Phillies expected Kevin Millwood to be their ace when they traded for him in the offseason. They need him to begin pitching like one again—especially in the heat of the NL wild-card race—as they face the Florida Marlins in the deciding game of their series at Veterans Stadium.
Philadelphia lost 11-4 to Florida on Wednesday night, falling 1 1/2 games behind the Marlins in the race for the NL wild card. The defeat means the Phillies need a solid performance from their No. 1 starter to avoid losing another game in the playoff race.
Millwood has faltered of late, including a 5-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, when he allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings. He has allowed 10 runs in 14 innings in his last two starts, both losses.
“I’m a better pitcher than that,” he said. “I haven’t been doing the job I wanted to do.”
He hasn’t fared well against the Marlins in his career either, posting a 5-7 mark with a 5.56 ERA in 18 career starts.
Jeff Conine homered, drove in three runs and made two outstanding defensive plays in left field, leading Florida to the win Wednesday.
Juan Pierre had four hits and a career-high four RBIs for the Marlins, who have won nine of their last 10 against Philadelphia. The teams meet again for a three-game series in Florida next week.
Conine, an original member of the Marlins and part of the franchise’s only championship team six years ago, was acquired to help replace injured All-Star Mike Lowell. Conine was hitting .184 (9-for-49) with four RBIs entering the game.
STANDINGS: Marlins - 2nd place, 10 GB, NL East. Phillies - 3rd place, 11 1/2 GB, NL East.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Dontrelle Willis (13-6, 3.27 ERA). In his last start, the rookie left-hander allowed two runs and eight hits over six innings of an 8-3 win over Atlanta on Saturday. He pitched well against the Phillies in his only appearance against them, allowing one run and three hits over six innings, but did not figure in the Marlins’ 11-5 win on July 25.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Millwood (14-11, 3.87 ERA). The right-hander is 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 15 starts at Veterans Stadium this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Luis Castillo, .323 avg. and 95 runs; Lowell, 32 HRs and 105 RBIs; Pierre, 60 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .322 avg.; Jim Thome, 42 HRs, 121 RBIs and 104 runs; Bobby Abreu, 22 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - 2B Castillo is hitting .357 (15-for-42) in his career against RHP Millwood. … Left-handed batters are hitting just .182 against LHP Willis this season. … OF Juan Encarnacion is 0-for-18 in his career against RHP Millwood. Phillies - 1B Thome has 22 home runs at the Vet this season, tying Deron Johnson, Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski for second place on the single-season list. … After missing 16 games with a contusion in his left thigh, INF Placido Polanco, who was hitting .291 before the injury, returned to third base for the Phillies, going 1-for-5 with a run scored. … 1B Thome’s 121 RBIs are the most for a Phillies player since Schmidt drove in 121 in 1980.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 36-40 on the road; Phillies - 46-28 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - 3B Lowell (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Armando Almanza (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (elbow), 60-day DL. Phillies - 3B David Bell (back), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 60-day DL.