After a slow start, the Philadelphia Phillies took advantage of a long homestand to get back to .500. Now, they turn to their ace as they try to move above the break-even mark for the first time this season.
Philadelphia (22-22) won seven of 10 games on its latest homestand, improving to .500 after opening the season 3-10.
The Phillies beat Toronto 5-3 on Sunday for their 12th win in their last 17 games at Citizens Bank Park, where they haven’t lost a series since being swept in a season-opening three-game set against Atlanta April 2-5.
Their recent success at home has pulled the Phillies into third place in the NL East.
“We got back to .500, but the ultimate goal is to be a division leader,” outfielder Shane Victorino said. “But we have a long way to go before we do that. Fortunately, right now, we’re making the plays. We haven’t gone on that big win streak yet, but hopefully it’s something that will happen in the future for us.”
On the road, however, the Phillies have lost four of six. They dropped two of three against the Marlins (21-23) in their last trip to Miami April 6-8.
Hamels (6-1, 3.30 ERA) has won a career-high four straight starts. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his last outing, a 6-2 victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Hamels’ bid for a no-hitter ended on J.J. Hardy’s two-run home run in the seventh, but the 23-year-old left-hander allowed only two runs and two hits while striking out 11 in eight innings, leading him to believe that a no-hitter is in his future.
“I think every year I try and go out and at least get one,” Hamels said. “I know if I can keep fighting and keep plugging away, I can go out there and hopefully get one every year.”
Hamels is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against Florida, allowing 18 hits while striking out 20 in 18 innings.
Florida won all three meetings with Tampa Bay over the weekend for its first three-game sweep since Sept. 1-3. The Marlins trailed 3-0 entering the seventh inning on Sunday, but rallied for a 4-3 win.
“It shows the character of the club,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “They just keep battling and keep coming after you, and it’s good.”
The Marlins, one game behind the Phillies in the NL East, had lost the first four games of their road trip, but won five of the last six.
“The way we started off this road trip, we were flat-out awful,” reliever Kevin Gregg told the team’s official Web site after recording his third save in three chances Sunday. “And now, we turned it around, and hopefully, this gives us some momentum through this next homestand, and in our division. It’s a good feeling.”
The Marlins hope to continue their roll with left-hander Scott Olsen (3-3, 4.80) on the mound. Olsen allowed three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings on Wednesday, failing to receive a decision in Florida’s 4-3 win at Pittsburgh.
He is 2-4 with a 5.51 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies. Olsen held Philadelphia to three runs and four hits in five innings to come away with a 6-4 victory on April 8.