The Philadelphia Phillies are starting to hit again thanks in part to one of the worst pitching staffs in the major leagues.
The Phillies look for another big offensive effort in the deciding contest of their three-game road set with the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Struggling to score runs and win games of late, Philadelphia (44-38) did both during an 8-6 victory over Texas on Saturday, one night after falling 8-7 in the series opener Friday.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each homered and drove in two runs for the Phillies, who are 3-10 since beating St. Louis 20-2 on June 13. Philadelphia has scored 46 runs since that contest, 15 coming at Texas (41-41), which boasts the AL’s highest ERA of 4.93.
The Phillies scored 15 runs total in their previous eight games prior to this series.
“It was the entire team, it went into a lull at the same time. You don’t see that too often, but we did,” Howard said. “Everybody knows that’s how the game goes sometime.”
Utley, who had three hits, homered for the first time in 12 games, giving him 23 to match Florida’s Dan Uggla for the most in the majors. Howard, meanwhile, hadn’t homered in his previous nine games and is hitting .215 with 20 homers and an NL-leading 67 RBIs
“I’ve said it all along, we’ve got to hit to win,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “Our big boys have to hit.”
Though Philadelphia - which holds a two-game lead over Florida in the NL East - appears to have revived itself at the plate, it needs a strong pitching outing to win consecutive games for the first time since June 12-13 after giving up 19 runs in its last three contests.
Jamie Moyer (7-5, 4.09 ERA) looks to avoid a third straight loss when he takes the ball Sunday. The 45-year-old allowed five hits - including a three-run homer - and struck out a season-high nine in 6 2-3 innings of Philadelphia’s 5-2 loss at Oakland on Tuesday.
“That’s not me,” Moyer said of his high strikeout count. “I’d rather have one and be in the eighth inning.”
The left-hander, who spent the 1989 and 1990 seasons with Texas, is 14-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 33 starts against the Rangers.
Michael Young homered and joined Ian Kinsler by recording three hits Saturday for Texas, which has alternated wins and loses in its last six contests. The Rangers have been one game over .500 on six occasions this season, only to lose the next game each time.
“The whole thing is we have to make a run. Rolling off five or 10 games in a row would be nice,” Rangers’ outfielder Marlon Byrd said.
Kinsler has hit safely in 11 straight games while batting .400 (18-for-45) with eight RBIs during that span. Young, meanwhile, is 5-for-10 in the series and hitting .370 (20-for-54) with six doubles, a homer and a triple against Moyer.
Rookie Eric Hurley (0-1, 4.24) will make his fourth start Sunday for Texas, which has lost his three previous outings. He allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Houston on Tuesday.
The right-hander will make his first start against Philadelphia.