Miami (76-79) at Philadelphia (81-73)

Light Rain Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Sep 24, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Phillies are atop the NL wild-card standings.

Philadelphia continues its push for its first playoff appearance since 1993 when it tries to sweep a three-game series from the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

The Phillies (81-73) defeated the Marlins 8-6 on Saturday and moved a half-game ahead of Los Angeles in the wild-card race after the Dodgers lost 9-3 to Arizona later that night.

Philadelphia, winner of four straight, has eight games remaining while Los Angeles has seven left.

The Phillies were 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race on July 29, the day before they traded Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees, but have since gone 35-19.

Carlos Ruiz and Jeff Conine each drove in three runs on Saturday, and Chase Utley went 4-for-5 with three runs as Philadelphia won for the ninth time in 11 games. Center fielder Shane Victorino also went 4-for-5 after going just 6-for-45 (.133) in his last 11 contests.

“That’s how you play winning baseball, everybody contributing,” said Jimmy Rollins, who hit his 23rd home run.

Ryan Howard, who hit his major league-leading 58th homer in Friday’s 5-2 series-opening victory, went 1-for-2 with two intentional walks on Saturday. Howard has frustrated the Marlins (76-79) all season, batting .537 (22-for-41) with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 14 games against them.

He is 6-for-9 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs this year against Sunday’s Florida starter, Scott Olsen (12-8, 3.87 ERA).

Olsen has been pitching well lately, but hasn’t won a game since Sept. 3. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings against the New York Mets on Tuesday, but didn’t receive a decision in Florida’s 3-2 loss.

The 22-year-old left-hander is 0-1 with a 2.78 ERA in his last three outings, with the loss coming to the Phillies on Sept. 8. He is 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA in four career starts against Philadelphia.

The Phillies look to get another solid outing from veteran Jamie Moyer (3-2, 3.79) when he takes the mound in the series finale. The 43-year-old left-hander allowed one run, six hits and no walks in seven innings of a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

“He’s a true professional,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s at the ballpark real early. He does his work. He’s prepared. He really studies the hitters. He’ll call people about hitters. He’s very demanding of himself. He might not light up a radar gun, but he’ll get you out.”

Moyer faced the Marlins for the first time in his 20-year career on Sept. 8, and gave up five hits and one run in eight innings of a 3-2 victory.

Florida has lost eight of its last 11 games, and a defeat Sunday would eliminate it from the playoffs. The Marlins, who became the first team in history to achieve a winning record after being 20 games below .500, were just two games back of the wild card on Sept. 11 but are now 5 1/2 games behind.

“They’ve gained so much experience through all of this, and they’ll continue to gain experience,” Florida manager Joe Girardi said. “If you are going to go young, you want them to experience everything in the first year. They’ve had a chance to do that.”

Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, a top candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year award, went 0-for-4 on Saturday and is just 2-for-26 (.077) in his last six games.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Olsen Tex vs. J. Moyer Tor
12-10 Record 11-14
4.04 ERA 4.30
166 K 108
75 BB 51
1.30 WHIP 1.32


Sunday, Sep 24