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AP - Sports

Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt is one of baseball's best hitters, but he's hardly looked like an MVP candidate against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The All-Star first baseman may be in good position to break out of that funk considering the way Kyle Kendrick is pitching.

The Diamondbacks look for a rare win in Philadelphia when they face the struggling Kendrick, whose days in the starting rotation appear numbered.

Goldschmidt, the NL leader with 38 doubles and last year's MVP runner-up, is batting .375 with a 1.177 OPS in 18 games this month. In 18 career games against the Phillies, however, he has five extra-base hits while hitting .172 - easily his worst against any NL team.

He has a strikeout and sacrifice fly in two appearances against Kendrick (4-10, 4.87 ERA), but may fare better this time around.

Kendrick has a 9.92 ERA in his last three starts and is 1-4 with a 6.99 ERA in his past six. After he was knocked around for six runs in five innings in Sunday's 8-2 loss to Atlanta, manager Ryne Sandberg said he wasn't sure how much longer he would keep Kendrick in the rotation.

''It's been a tough year for me,'' the right-hander said. ''I don't know why. It's just been a bad year. Guys have bad years. So far, that's how it's been. Just keep pitching.''

It may not get a lot better with a start against the Diamondbacks - the only NL team he has not beaten. Kendrick is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in seven starts in the series.

While Sandberg doesn't have a lot of faith in Kendrick, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson has nothing but praise for Wade Miley (6-6, 4.16).

Miley has a 1.74 ERA with 19 strikeouts over 20 2-3 innings in winning his last three starts, and he's 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies (44-58).

"He's just throwing the ball really well. It's coming out of his hand good," Gibson told MLB's official website after Miley allowed three runs in seven innings in Saturday's 9-3 win over the Cubs. "The other thing, I think, in his head, he's managing things a little better, as well. Really efficient with what's going on out there."

The left-hander has gone eight straight starts without a loss - Arizona is 6-2 in those games - and has pitched much better on the road, compiling a 2.85 ERA compared to 5.45 in Arizona.

However, the Diamondbacks have lost seven of 10 on the road and are 3-13 in their last 16 in Philadelphia. They also dropped two of three to the Phillies at home in April.

Arizona (44-58) opens a six-game trip after dropping two of three to Detroit with an 11-5 loss Wednesday.

Martin Prado had two hits and an RBI and is batting .391 in 23 at-bats against Kendrick. Miguel Montero is 6 for 12 in their matchups.

Kendrick isn't the only Phillie whose playing time may be cut. Sandberg said before Thursday's 2-1 victory over San Francisco that he's considering platooning Ryan Howard at first base with Darin Ruf.

''I wanted to see (Ruf) play for a couple of games, get him some at-bats and basically go from there,'' Sandberg said. ''We'll continue to watch.''

In facing a lefty, it's possible Ruf, who hit 14 homers in 73 games a year ago but is 2 for 17 this season, will start a third straight game in place of Howard.

The Phillies avoided a four-game sweep Thursday with their second win in nine games. They're 2-9 in their last 11 in Philadelphia.

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