The first stop of the Philadelphia Phillies’ trip to Southern California could not have gone much worse, as they fell out of first place in the NL East. They have reason to believe things will improve when the trip continues to San Diego.
The Phillies try to avoid dropping five straight games for the first time in eight weeks when they open a three-game series against the lowly Padres Friday.
Philadelphia (64-57) entered its series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday with a two-game lead over the New York Mets in the East, but after losing all four games to the Dodgers, the Phillies have dropped one game back of the first-place Mets.
Philadelphia managed only two hits in Thursday’s 3-1 loss, and has dropped six of its last eight. The Phillies have not lost five straight games since dropping a season-worst six in a row June 17-24.
“It’s tough, man,” said Ryan Howard, who leads the majors with 33 homers. “We’ve been just in an offensive lull. Everybody’s going out there and trying. I’ve never really been a part of anything like it before.”
Despite their latest struggles, Howard and the Phillies have had success against the Padres (47-74), owners of the second-worst record in the NL.
Philadelphia took two of three from San Diego at home April 29-May 1, and has won 12 of the last 15 meetings at Petco Park.
Howard is 3-for-29 (.103) with one home run in his last eight games, but is batting .467 (14-for-30) with three homers and 13 RBIs in 10 career games at Petco—his highest batting average at any ballpark.
The Padres, meanwhile, have just five wins in their last 23 home games, and are averaging 1.9 runs in their last eight at Petco.
San Diego defeated NL wild card-leading Milwaukee 3-2 on Thursday, but has not won consecutive home games since winning three straight June 11-20.
The 42-year-old Maddux and 45-year-old Moyer were teammates with the Chicago Cubs from 1986-88, and Maddux’s major league debut came in relief of Moyer’s 12th career start on Sept. 2, 1986.
Maddux won his first start five days later and picked up career victory No. 353 in Saturday’s 8-3 win over Colorado. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in six innings to move within one win of Roger Clemens for eighth on the all-time list.
Maddux has posted a 3.71 ERA in winning his last three starts immediately after enduring a 14-game winless drought—the worst of his Hall of Fame career.
“He’s pitching as well as he has in a Padre uniform if not better,” San Diego manager Bud Black told the team’s official Web site.
The four-time NL Cy Young Award winner has not won four straight starts since winning five in a row April 7-28, 2006, with the Cubs.
In his only start of the season against the Phillies on April 29, Maddux gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-4 loss.
Moyer has not had as an illustrious career as Maddux, but has compiled 240 wins—fifth amongst active pitchers.
On Sunday, Moyer allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh, but did not factor in the decision. The soft-tossing left-hander has yielded three runs or less in each of his last 12 starts, the first player in franchise history to do so since Chris Short did it in his final 23 starts in 1967.
In Moyer’s only start versus San Diego this season on April 30, he gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 defeat.