Marlins-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

After their pitching staff allowed 20 runs and 31 hits in consecutive losses, the Philadelphia Phillies should be able to breathe easier with red-hot Kyle Kendrick set to face the worst offense in baseball.

Kendrick looks to continue his outstanding stretch Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against the visiting Miami Marlins.

Despite having Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee on the mound, Philadelphia (12-16) was outscored 20-2 while getting swept in a brief series in Cleveland.

"The Indians beat up on us these two games,'' said manager Charlie Manuel following a 6-0 loss on Wednesday. "They took it to us pretty good.''

Now Manuel's club returns home looking to snap a three-game losing streak at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick (2-1, 2.41 ERA) is pitching with some confidence heading into this start after recording the second shutout of his career in a 4-0 road win over the New York Mets on Friday.

The right-hander scattered three singles, walked one and struck out five while allowing two runs or less for the fourth straight start. He's 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA over that span.

"He's had a lot of poise on the mound,'' first baseman Ryan Howard said.

Kendrick is also 7-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his last nine starts against the Marlins, who enter this series last in the majors in runs (79), batting average (.224) and homers (12). The Phillies have won eight of those nine games dating back to the 2010 season.

NL-worst Miami (8-20) failed to sweep the Mets on Wednesday and had its season-high three-game win streak snapped when its bullpen blew a three-run lead in a 7-6 loss.

"It's tough to sweep teams in the big leagues,'' manager Mike Redmond said. "At the end of the day we won a series, and that's huge, and hopefully something we can build off during this road trip.''

The Marlins turn to right-hander Alex Sanabia (2-3, 4.85) as they embark on a season-high 10-game trip.

After tossing six shutout innings in his first start, Sanabia has posted a 6.08 ERA while dropping three of his last four outings. He allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

Sanabia pitched well in his only career start in Philadelphia, giving up one run and six hits over six innings in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 15, 2011.

Howard, who had his 11-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday, went 6 for 12 with four doubles to help the Phillies take two of three in Miami last month.

Second baseman Chase Utley is batting .348 in 67 career home games against the Marlins.

With Miami's Rob Brantly questionable due to a cut on the index finger of his throwing hand, Miguel Olivo could get another start behind the plate.

Olivo, though, may have a difficult time breaking out of his 1-for-16 slump since he is 1 for 9 against Kendrick.

Third baseman Placido Polanco makes his first trip back to Philadelphia after spending the past three seasons with the Phillies.

Philadelphia has won nine of the last 12 meetings in this series.