Strong starting pitching and a solid approach at the plate have the Philadelphia Phillies in position to complete their first three-game sweep at San Francisco in almost 29 years.
Rookie Jonathan Pettibone can help the Phillies achieve that feat when he tries to continue the strong start to his career Wednesday against the Giants.
The Phillies have totaled 22 hits in the series after they were held to five and outscored 16-2 in two straight losses to lowly Miami.
“We’ve played two solid games,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We were really working on moving the runners and scoring the runs. Everything was very good.”
Philadelphia, which dropped four of six before starting a seven-game road trip this week, last swept a three-game set in San Francisco from May 18-20, 1984.
Pettibone (2-0, 3.24 ERA) has been solid through his first three major league starts while filling in for the injured John Lannan The 22-year-old Southern California native allowed a homer and four other hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 win over the Marlins on Friday.
The right-hander has walked two and struck out 13 through 16 2-3 innings.
“He’s pitched real good,” said Manuel, whose team is 3-0 in Pettibone’s starts. “I like that he can take his fastball and hit both sides of the plate with it.”
Howard is 6 for 18 with three homers in the last six games and reached base four times Tuesday. Utley had his first three-hit game since the season opener, and he’s batting .360 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last six against the Giants (19-14).
While Utley is 7 for 17 (.412) with two doubles, a triple and a home run against scheduled San Francisco starter Barry Zito (3-1, 3.06), Howard has gone 1 for 10 with five strikeouts.
Zito allowed six hits, walked four and put the leadoff batter on base in each of his five innings Friday, but managed to yield only a run while not factoring in the decision of a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Though Zito was not satisfied with his effort, it was a better performance than his previous start when he gave up six runs - one earned - in 3 2-3 innings at San Diego on April 27.
“From a personal standpoint I’m not happy with the way I pitched at all (Friday),” Zito told the Giants’ official website. “But baseball is like that sometimes. I kept trying to make pitches throughout the night and was able to make pitches when I needed.”
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in his last three starts versus Philadelphia.
Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford each had two hits Tuesday for San Francisco, which in the last three weeks has enjoyed winning streaks of four and six games and endured slides of three, five and now two in a row.
“We just have to get those bats going,” said manager Bruce Bochy, whose team has 12 hits over the last two games without drawing a walk. “It makes it tough when you aren’t doing a lot offensively.”
The Giants were last swept at home July 27-29 by the Dodgers.
Scutaro is hitting .462 in his last seven games.
Ex-Phillie Hunter Pence was 11 for 24 in the previous six games before going 0 for 4 on Tuesday.