Starting to build some momentum following a post-All-Star game slump, the Philadelphia Phillies look to continue their fight to make up ground in the NL East standings. They may be catching Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) at the right time.
The Phillies look to win their third straight overall and sixth in a row at home Saturday when the Rockies try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since last season.
After the Phillies (50-46) batted .239 and averaged 3.4 runs on a 2-6 trip that left them a season-high seven games out of the NL East lead, hitting coach Milt Thompson was replaced by Greg Gross on Friday.
In the team’s first game since manager Charlie Manuel made that move, Raul Ibanez(notes) had three hits and a season high-tying three RBIs and Roy Halladay(notes) pitched eight scoreless innings to spark Philadelphia to a 6-0 win to open its seven-game homestand Friday.
“You feel good when you get five runs and Roy is on the mound,” Ibanez said. “It was a nice boost for our club.”
The Phillies are batting .316 during back-to-back wins and have moved within six games of division-leading Atlanta, which lost 7-6 at Florida on Friday.
Looking to win six straight at Citizens Bank Park for the first time since a seven-game run July 8-21, 2009, the Phillies will get their first look at Jimenez (15-1, 2.38 ERA) this season. Jimenez went 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the Phillies in last year’s NLDS, including a 5-1, Game 1 defeat in Philadelphia on Oct. 7 when he struck out seven while throwing seven innings of two-run ball.
Jimenez is 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA in three starts - including the postseason - in Philadelphia, but he is looking forward to returning to Citizens Bank Park.
“I love the fans (in Philadelphia),” Jimenez told the Rockies’ official website. “They’re on you even when you start to warm up, and they don’t stop. ‘We’re going to kill you.’ ‘You’re not going to last five innings.’”
Jimenez lasted a season-low 5 1-3 innings in Monday’s 9-8 loss at Florida, surrendering a season high-tying six runs and six hits.
Jimenez, who is 9-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 11 road starts, will try to win his career-high 16th game and help the Rockies (51-45) avoid their first four-game skid since Sept. 12-15.
The Phillies will give the ball to Kyle Kendrick(notes) (5-4, 4.82), who was sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday after giving up a career high-tying seven runs and career-high three home runs in Monday’s 8-4 loss at St. Louis.
“My command was off all night,” Kendrick said following his five-inning effort. “I got behind, I left pitches up. They should be hit where they hit them.”
Kendrick, though, returns to the rotation after general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was unable to trade the right-hander.
Kendrick is 1-1 with a 5.93 ERA in five starts against Colorado. He gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings in a 9-5 loss at Colorado on May 10.
Rockies left fielder Seth Smith(notes), who is batting .429 (6 for 14) against Philadelphia this season, is 6 for 7 with two doubles and a triple lifetime versus Kendrick. Right fielder Brad Hawpe(notes) is 1 for 14 since the All-Star break, but he is 4 for 8 with two doubles against the Phillies starter.
Philadelphia has won seven of eight at home against Colorado.