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Phillies-Dodgers Preview

AP - Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies broke out of a slump in their last game to avoid a sweep in the first series of a 10-game road trip.

They'll now try to emerge from a similar scoring funk against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night in the opener of this four-game series.

The Phillies (8-10) had 15 hits in Sunday's 10-9 win in Colorado after scoring three runs in their previous four games.

First baseman Ryan Howard led the way with a 4-for-5 day that included a home run, triple and three RBIs. He entered the game 7 for his last 40 while the team had batted .151 the previous four days.

"It was well overdue," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Just some good at-bats. Howard really broke out in a good way. It was good to see that good contact. Hitting balls to left-center field is a good thing for him. He broke out in a big way."

Against the Dodgers, the Phillies have scored four runs in the last four meetings and lost five of seven last year, including three of four in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers (12-7) have been similarly stingy with what their starting pitching has given up lately, yielding eight earned runs in the last nine games for a 5-0 record out of the rotation with a 1.33 ERA.

They allowed just three hits in Sunday's 4-1 home win over Arizona.

"We've got one of the best pitchers of the last 10 years (Clayton Kershaw) on the disabled list, and still, we're going at a pretty good clip even without him," starter Josh Beckett told the team's official website after allowing a hit in five innings.

Paul Maholm will go for his first Dodgers win in his third start. Maholm (0-1, 4.97 ERA) is starting on regular rest for the first time after splitting duty between the rotation and bullpen in the first few weeks. The left-hander allowed a run on five hits in six innings of a 2-1 loss in San Francisco on Wednesday, a vast improvement after yielding five runs over 4 1-3 innings against the Giants in his first start 11 days earlier.

"Not having a routine of every five days, I felt good," Maholm said. "It's tough to work on stuff when you throw an inning and you've got to get hitters out. But I actually felt good (Wednesday)."

Maholm is 2-2 with a 6.52 ERA in his last six starts against Philadelphia.

He'll face Cliff Lee, who also pitched well enough for a win his last time out but suffered a 1-0 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. Lee (2-2, 4.00) went the distance, allowing a run on 11 hits while striking out 13.

"All I can worry about is making pitches and throwing strikes," Lee told the team's official website. "I can't worry about the guys behind me making plays. I assume they're going to, and I assume we're going to hit and score runs. Occasionally, you run into a pitcher that's on top of what he's doing."

Lee has been hit relatively hard though four starts with a .342 opponents' batting average, but that could change against the Dodgers. He's 3-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in eight career starts - including the postseason - against Los Angeles. He's made it through at least seven innings in each of those without allowing more than seven hits.

Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is 8 for 16 with three home runs against Lee while first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is 11 for 22.

Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a double Sunday.

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