The Philadelphia Phillies are mired in their longest losing streak of the season and will place another regular on the disabled list prior to their series finale with baseball's best team.
Despite those obstacles, the Phillies might have the advantage with Cole Hamels on the hill.
With the chance to become baseball's first nine-game winner, Hamels looks to help Philadelphia avoid being swept in a four-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time in 66 years on Thursday afternoon.
After pulling within 2 1/2 games of first place in the NL East last Friday, a five-game losing streak has dropped the Phillies (28-30) six back of division-leading Washington. In Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton homered, but the team lost second baseman Freddy Galvis to a back injury.
Galvis will be placed on the DL Thursday, joining Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and five others.
"Another one of our guys going down, what more can I say?'' manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's kind of bad right now, but we have to show up and try to win a game. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.''
Especially Los Angeles (36-21), which is playing without center fielder Matt Kemp.
"Our big guy is out, so we've got to make up for it," said Dee Gordon, who drove in two runs Wednesday.
The Dodgers have taken advantage of Philadelphia's struggles following a 3-8 stretch, and are now in position for the first four-game sweep in the series since Aug. 11-14, 2008. They haven't swept a four-game set in Philadelphia since May 24-26, 1946, when the team was based in Brooklyn.
Getting that fourth win likely won't be easy with Hamels (8-2, 2.81 ERA) on the mound.
Hamels failed in his first attempt at a ninth win Saturday against Miami, yielding a season-high five runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4 loss. It was his first blemish since giving up four runs in 5 1-3 innings in a loss to the Marlins in his season debut.
He's still tied for the most wins with St. Louis' Lance Lynn and the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey, who are also both scheduled to start Thursday. Aside from Hamels' two starts against the Marlins, he is 8-0 with a 2.22 ERA in nine outings with the Phillies winning each time.
In 11 starts against the NL West since the start of last season, Hamels is 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA, the majors' lowest against that division for any pitcher with at least 50 innings. In 82 2-3 innings, Hamels has a 0.83 WHIP, also the best in baseball.
He is 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Los Angeles, and hasn't allowed a run in the last 17 innings.
The Dodgers counter with Aaron Harang (4-3, 3.90), who gave up a run, four hits and three walks in six innings of a 6-2 victory at Colorado on Saturday. It was the fifth time in six starts the right-hander allowed two earned runs or fewer.
He is 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts against the Phillies since 2009.
Hunter Pence, who is 2 for 16 in the last four games, is batting .474 with a double in 19 at-bats against Harang since 2009.
- Cole Hamels
- Los Angeles Dodgers