Russell Branyan’s debut with the Philadelphia Phillies went better than they could have expected. The Phillies have been getting plenty of strong performances from one of their other newcomers lately.
Branyan hit .197 in 61 games for San Diego this season before getting released at the end of July. He signed as a free agent with Cleveland on Aug. 7 and played one game with their top minor league affiliate before the Phillies (63-55) acquired him on Thursday.
Branyan hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth inning of his first appearance to lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 win over Washington (54-65) in Tuesday’s opener.
“I’ve still got a big league uniform on my back, and we’re in contention for the National League East. I’m on a good ballclub,” said Branyan, whose new team remained three games behind the division-leading New York Mets.
Philadelphia has won six of its last eight games and is 6-3 versus the Nationals this season. The Phillies try to continue that play when they hand the ball to Kendrick (5-2, 3.75 ERA), who has been a pleasant surprise.
Since being called up from Double-A Reading to replace the injured Freddy Garcia in the rotation in mid-June, the rookie right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning of all 11 of his starts while holding opponents to three or fewer runs in nine of those outings. He has thrown three straight quality starts while posting a 2.14 ERA, but has gone 1-1 during that stretch as the Phillies have given him three or fewer runs of support in each of those contests.
Kendrick held Florida to two runs and six hits over seven innings on Thursday, but didn’t factor into the 4-2 defeat. The 22-year-old threw 51 of his 71 pitches for strikes in soggy weather.
“Kendrick pitched a heck of a game, considering the conditions,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Phillies’ official Web site.
Kendrick didn’t receive a decision in his only start versus the Nationals on July 24, when he allowed three runs and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-3 win.
Washington had its season-high eight-game home-winning streak snapped on Tuesday despite holding the Phillies to four hits. Tony Batista hit a two-run, pinch-hit double for the Nationals, who had first baseman Dmitri Young back in the lineup after he missed four games with tightness in his left hamstring.
Young went 0-for-3, and is just 7-for-33 (.212) against Philadelphia this year.
Tim Redding (1-3, 2.86) hopes to finally get some help from his teammates when he takes the mound for Washington. The right-hander has gotten two or fewer runs of support in all but one of his seven starts.
He held every opponent to no more than three runs this year until his most recent outing. Redding had a stretch of five straight quality starts snapped with a 5-0 defeat to San Francisco on Wednesday when he gave up four runs and six hits over seven innings.
Redding had only one strikeout and gave up two homers for the second time this season, including Barry Bonds’ 757th career blast. He had struck out eight in each of his two previous outings.
“I thought (Redding) did a very good job. He gave us a chance,” manager Manny Acta told the Nationals’ official Web site. “He made a couple of mistakes, but everybody does. He pitched seven innings and gave our bullpen a rest. We just couldn’t anything going offensively.”
Redding hasn’t received a decision in his last two home starts, despite allowing just one run through 13 innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts versus the Phillies, but hasn’t faced them since 2003 while with Houston.