The Phillies will try for their first win over the Marlins this season when the teams open a two-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia was just 6-13 against Florida in 2003 and finished five games behind the eventual World Series champion in the NL wild card race.
That trend continued earlier this season, as the Marlins won the first six meetings with the Phillies. They swept a three-game series at Pro Player Stadium from April 9-11 and another a week later at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies, who have not made the playoffs since 1993, have dropped 17 of the last 18 meetings overall.
“I look at it as we better start beating them,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “It’s important.”
Catcher Mike Lieberthal said the Phillies are past due for a victory over their NL East rivals.
“We owe them,” Lieberthal said. “They really haven’t been playing good baseball since we played them. I don’t care if they beat us 30 out of 30, as long as we’re ahead of them at the end and we go to the playoffs. (Still), there is more of a desire to beat them just because they’ve beaten us so many times.”
The Phillies, who are 3-3 since the All-Star break, pulled into a first-place tie with Atlanta after beating the Braves 4-3 on Tuesday.
The Phillies will entrust their share of first place to starter Kevin Millwood.
The 29-year-old right-hander, who was inconsistent throughout the first half of the season, allowed one run and three hits over seven innings Friday in a 5-1 win over the New York Mets. He didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him use the inside part of the plate in a long, long time,” Bowa said.
Expected to be the ace of the Phillies’ staff, Millwood is hoping Friday’s effort will propel him to a strong second half.
“This is huge for me to get off to a good start and hopefully carry this on to the rest of the season,” Millwood said. “I didn’t pitch the way I wanted to in the first half, hopefully this will balloon for me.”
The Marlins arrive in Philadelphia after sweeping a two-game series from the Mets at Shea Stadium. Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three runs Tuesday, and Florida held on for a 9-7 win despite blowing an early six-run lead.
After Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first, he came through again with the eventual game-winning RBI single in the sixth.