The Phillies try to extend their season-high winning streak at Citizens Bank Park to five games as they continue a three-game series with the Marlins on Wednesday.
Philadelphia (59-53) is 9-2 in its last 11 home games, and has won four in a row there while outscoring opponents 34-8 and posting a 1.85 ERA. Ryan Howard homered twice Tuesday, and Aaron Rowand also went deep to help the Phillies take the opener 11-1 and pull within four games of the first-place New York Mets in the NL East.
Howard has 32 homers and a league-best 93 RBIs. The reigning NL MVP has 11 career multihomer games, including four this season, and is batting .375 (3-for-8) with a homer during his career versus Willis.
“I’m just trying to be consistent,” said Howard, whose team improved to 9-2 in its last 11 home meetings with Florida.
Willis (7-11, 4.91 ERA) is 0-8 with a 5.01 ERA over his last 12 starts, allowing opponents to hit .318. The Marlins (52-61) have been held to three or fewer runs in all but one of those outings.
The left-hander has posted back-to-back quality starts, though, including an 8-2 defeat to Houston on Friday when he squared off against Roy Oswalt. Willis gave up three runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings before a 30-minute rain delay ended his night. He walked one and struck out five.
“It was a tough game tonight. I feel I threw the ball very well but Oswalt did the same,” said Willis, who hasn’t won since May 29 at the Chicago Cubs. “I felt strong and I was executing my pitches where I wanted to but a couple plays got through so you have to tip your hat. I felt like I was right there the whole night.”
Willis is 8-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 19 career starts versus the Phillies—his most against any opponent—and 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his last five starts against them. He has already faced Philadelphia three times this season, including May 24 when he allowed three runs through 6 1-3 innings in Florida’s 5-4, 11-inning win.
Florida has lost eight of its last nine on the road, getting outscored 68-35 and posting a 7.91 ERA. Hanley Ramirez, who is batting an NL-best .342, mustered the Marlins’ only offense Tuesday when he homered on the first pitch of the game.
Ramirez, who has homered in three straight games, is 3-for-7 with three doubles lifetime versus Kyle Lohse (6-12, 4.61), who will make his second start for Philadelphia. The right-hander, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, left his Phillies debut on Thursday after just one inning when he was hit by a line drive on his right forearm.
He had a rough first inning in the no-decision, hitting two batters and walking in a run, but the Phillies eventually beat the Cubs 10-6. Lohse’s forearm was bruised and swollen after getting hit, but he expects to be ready for this start.
Lohse will be making his first home start with his new team and has only made one previous start at Citizens Bank Park, giving up one run through 6 1-3 innings in a no-decision with the Reds last season. Lohse is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two career starts versus the Marlins, including a 10-2 loss on July 20 when he allowed seven runs—four earned—though 6 2-3 innings.
He may not have to face Florida left fielder Josh Willingham, who has missed the last two games due to kidney stones.