The Philadelphia Phillies are quickly putting last week’s disappointing series at Dodger Stadium behind them.
The Phillies look to continue their offensive outburst and win their third straight game over the Los Angeles Dodgers when they resume their four-game series Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia (70-59) had a two-game lead over the second-place New York Mets in the NL East two weeks ago, but after being swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles (65-64) Aug. 11-14, the Phillies left Dodger Stadium tied atop the division.
Philadelphia has won six of eight since leaving Chavez Ravine, including two impressive victories over Los Angeles.
After hitting three home runs in an 8-1 win in Friday’s series opener, the second-place Phillies won 9-2 Saturday to move within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Mets. Philadelphia has not won three straight games in a series over the Dodgers since May 18-20, 2004.
The Phillies’ offense has broken out of its slump against Los Angeles after scoring 16 runs combined in the four games at Dodger Stadium last week. Pat Burrell hit his 30th homer of the season, matched his career high with five RBIs and scored three times on Saturday for Philadelphia, which entered Friday averaging 3.2 runs in its first 19 games this month.
“We’re capable of scoring definitely more than three runs a night,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “When we’re clicking we’re going to average about five runs a game when we’re really good. Once we get consistent and start scoring runs like we can and our pitching stays as good as it’s been, we’re going to win quite a few games.”
While the Phillies’ offense is starting to get back on track, the Dodgers are in a funk.
Los Angeles has five hits in each of its last three games, leading to six runs. The Dodgers, who have lost four of five, have dropped three games behind NL West-leading Arizona.
“We’re not hitting,” Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on our pitchers because we’re not scoring runs.”
Manny Ramirez is 4-for-16 with no extra-base hits and no RBIs in his last five games after batting .424 (25-for-59) with six home runs and 21 RBIs in his first 16 games with the Dodgers.
Ramirez hopes to get things turned around Saturday, as he’s batting .609 (14-for-23) with a homer and a double lifetime versus scheduled starter Joe Blanton (1-0, 4.50 ERA).
Blanton has yielded four runs in five innings in each of his last two outings after allowing one run and five hits over 14 innings in his first two August starts. The right-hander did not get a decision in a 5-4 win over Washington on Tuesday.
In his previous outing on Aug. 13 at Dodger Stadium, Blanton allowed nine hits—including two homers—in Philadelphia’s 7-6 loss. He is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts versus Los Angeles.
The Dodgers counter with Hiroki Kuroda (7-9, 3.97), who tries to bounce back from his first loss of the month.
Kuroda opened August in stellar fashion, going 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his first three starts, yielding one run in each outing. The Japanese right-hander was not as sharp on Tuesday, as he allowed four runs and six hits in six innings of an 8-3 loss to Colorado.
Kuroda looks to regain the dominance that he had in his previous start against the Phillies on Aug. 14, when he gave up one run and two hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 3-1 victory.