Philadelphia hopes to climb back toward the .500 mark and hand Milwaukee its ninth straight loss when the teams open a three-game series.
After losing nine of 10 on a homestand—the worst 10-game homestand in the franchise’s 121-year history—the Phillies responded with a three-game sweep at Milwaukee to get back to .500. Three straight losses to Houston dropped Philadelphia nine behind the Chicago Cubs in the crowded NL wild-card race with 35 games remaining.
Phillies manager Larry Bowa isn’t ready to give up on the playoffs despite his team’s position.
“Until the numbers tell you you’re out, you’re not out,” Bowa said following Wednesday’s 7-4 defeat. “But, obviously, there are a lot of people in front of us.”
Philadelphia has lost 11 of 15 and is three games behind the Astros for sixth place in the wild-card race. The Phillies are three games below .500 for the first time since April 25, when they were 7-10.
“We’ve got to keep going and keep fighting,” first baseman Jim Thome said. “It’s been disappointing. When we do click, we just can’t seem to keep it going.”
At least part of the reason for the Phillies’ disappointing second half can be attributed to the team’s failure to acquire any substantial help at the trade deadline. Starting pitcher Cory Lidle and relievers Todd Jones and Felix Rodriguez are a combined 2-7 with a 6.62 ERA since joining the team.
What started as a promising season for the Brewers has quickly been erased by a dismal second half that has seen the team lose 29 of 39 since the All-Star break to fall a season-worst 15 games below .500.
Milwaukee went down to its eighth consecutive loss 4-2 to the Cubs Wednesday.
“That’s the way it’s been going,” Brewers starter Doug Davis said. “The guys are playing their butts off, and it’s not going our way. If there are baseball gods, they must not like us.”
Jenkins fouled a ball off the inside of his right knee Tuesday while Overbay slipped in the muddy batter’s box and strained his left hamstring. Both are day-to-day and could return to the lineup Friday.
STANDINGS (through Aug. 25): Brewers - 6th place, 27 1/2 GB, NL Central. Phillies - 3rd place, 11 GB, NL East.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Victor Santos (10-8, 4.11 ERA). Santos did not receive a decision against the Phillies in Milwaukee’s 9-6 loss Sunday after allowing four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. Since going 4-0 during a five-start span from June 26-July 16, the right-hander has lost five of six decisions. Santos has surrendered five home runs in his last four starts after yielding just one in his previous six.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Vicente Padilla (4-6, 4.23 ERA). The right-hander has struggled since winning four straight starts in May, going 0-2 with a 5.31 ERA in his past five outings. He gave up a season high-tying six runs and seven hits through five innings at Milwaukee on Saturday in a game the Phillies won 8-6. Padilla is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Overbay, .316 avg. and 75 RBIs; Jenkins, 19 HRs; Podsednik, 70 runs and 47 SBs. Phillies - Bobby Abreu, 290 avg., 91 RBIs, 97 runs and 31 SBs; Thome, 38 HRs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 3-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - When he makes his season debut, RHP Pedro Liriano, called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, will be the 21st pitcher used by Milwaukee this season. … 1B Russell Branyan has struck out in 12 of his last 16 at-bats. … The Brewers have been outscored 39-14 during a five-game road losing streak. Phillies - RHP Ryan Madson, on the DL since July 26 with a sprained finger, threw off a mound Wednesday and could begin a rehab assignment as early as Sunday. … 3B David Bell is batting .405 (15-for-37) during a nine-game hitting streak. … 1B Thome is 6-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs against RHP Santos.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 25-36 on the road; Phillies - 30-33 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - OF Jenkins (knee), day-to-day; 1B Overbay (hamstring), day-to-day; INF Keith Ginter (wrist), 15-day DL; INF Junior Spivey (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brooks Kieschnick (shoulder), 15-day DL. Phillies - OF Pat Burrell (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Madson (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Millwood (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Powell (biceps), 15-day DL; LHP Billy Wagner (shoulder), 15-day DL.