Beating Philadelphia twice in a row looks to be a tall order.
Cole Hamels(notes) hopes to continue his recent resurgence Wednesday night as he tries to lead the Phillies a step closer to clinching their third straight NL East title in their final visit to Florida this season.
The Marlins (81-71) are 5-1 in six games at Philadelphia in 2009, but had been outscored 41-14 in losing all six home games to the Phillies entering Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Philadelphia recorded another lopsided win in the opener, getting three RBIs from Ryan Howard(notes) in a 9-3 victory. Florida, however, finally solved the Phillies (88-62) in the nightcap, backing eight strong innings from Anibal Sanchez(notes) with 10 hits en route to a 3-0 win.
With Colorado’s 11-10 win over San Diego, the Marlins are now 5 1/2 games behind the wild-card leaders.
“We’ll keep playing until they put one of those funny letters next to us (noting we’re eliminated),” manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Marlins’ official Web site. “I’m real proud of the way we came back in the second game. When we pitch, we’ve got a real good chance of winning ballgames.”
Time may be running out on Florida’s playoff hopes, but Philadelphia is a few wins away from another division title. The Phillies, 7 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta and eight up on the Marlins, reduced their magic number to five with the win in Tuesday’s opener.
One reason Philadelphia should feel confident heading into the postseason is the revitalization of Hamels (10-9, 4.07 ERA), one of baseball’s best starters over the past month. The 2008 World Series MVP is 3-1 with a 1.43 in five starts since Aug. 26, most recently giving up a run over eight innings with 10 strikeouts Thursday in a 4-2 win over Washington.
“I have a lot of confidence in Cole,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Phillies’ official Web site. “He’s had some ups and downs. It took him a while to get going, but his stuff is there.”
Hamels, who’s 3-6 with a 4.98 ERA on the road, is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts against the Marlins this season. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA in five career road starts against Florida.
Rick VandenHurk(notes) (2-2, 4.24) will try to keep the Marlins’ slim playoff hopes alive Wednesday, and he has reason for confidence coming off a positive start. The right-hander had left his previous outing with a stiff back, but tied a season high by throwing six innings Friday at Cincinnati, allowing one run and four hits before leaving without a decision in Florida’s 4-3 victory.
VandenHurk, who missed the first two months of 2009 with elbow soreness, hasn’t faced Philadelphia this season. He’s 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies, both at Citizens Bank Park in 2007.
The Marlins and Phillies close the regular season with three games in Philadelphia from Oct. 2-4.