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Phillies-Diamondbacks Preview

AP - Sports

Atop the NL West for the first time in more than a year, the Arizona Diamondbacks can now win a season-best five in a row.

They won't have to get past Roy Halladay to get that done.

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Tyler Cloyd will replace the two-time Cy Young winner and make his first start of the season Friday night at Chase Field.

Back from sweeping a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks (20-15) ended a season-worst three-game skid in the desert - and moved into a first-place tie with San Francisco in the West - with Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Phillies (16-20).

The Diamondbacks, who were last leading the division on April 10, 2012, last strung together five consecutive wins July 20-24.

Cloyd will try to prevent that from happening as he'll take Halladay's spot in the rotation for the time being after the team learned the veteran right-hander will need arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder.

"It was an unfortunate situation, Doc's situation, having him going down and having surgery," Cloyd told the Phillies' official website. "For me, it's just obviously another opportunity to prove myself and hopefully have some success."

The right-hander, 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, went 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in six starts for the Phillies a year ago as a late-season call-up.

"He's another guy whose location has to be real good," said Charlie Manuel, who set a Phillies franchise record with his 1,332nd game as the club's manager Thursday. "He's got to keep the ball down. He changes speeds good and that's where his success is. They can put the ball in play against him and hopefully he'll take the sting out of their bats and we can play good defensively behind him. That's kind of the way he pitches. He's a pitcher. He's definitely not going to blow you away."

Friday's starter Ian Kennedy (1-3, 5.19 ERA) has a decent fastball, but his focus now isn't overpowering hitters, but cutting down on walks - 15 in his last five starts. Kennedy is giving up 3.53 free passes per nine innings compared to 2.38 in 2012.

"I don't feel like I've thrown that bad until today,'' he said after walking three and giving up a season-worst two homers in Sunday's 5-1 loss at San Diego. "It weighs on you because you have to wait five more days.''

Despite his struggles, facing the Phillies could actually help the right-hander get back into the win column for the first time since his season debut. Kennedy is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in two career starts at Chase Field versus Philadelphia.

Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt isn't getting the job done in the desert. Fresh off going 7 for 13 with four homers and nine RBIs in the Dodgers sweep, Goldschmidt finished 0 for 3 on Thursday to drop his home batting average to .238 with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is also trying to bounce back from a hitless performance. The former MVP, 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the opener, has faced Kennedy more than any active Phillie, and he has no hits in nine at-bats in that matchup.

Arizona can win two straight over Philadelphia for just the second time since 2007.

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