Facing the Miami Marlins provided the Philadelphia Phillies a great chance to recover from an ugly series, and they've taken advantage.
Cole Hamels looks to become the latest Phillies starter to shut down the light-hitting Marlins on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.
After getting outscored 20-2 in a two-game sweep at Cleveland, Philadelphia (14-16) has bounced back with consecutive victories over Miami. A day after Kyle Kendrick went seven strong innings in a 7-2 win, rookie Jonathan Pettibone allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings Friday to help the Phillies to a 4-1 victory.
Philadelphia's pitching staff allowed 31 hits in two games versus the Indians but has limited Miami to 13 halfway through this four-game set. The NL-worst Marlins (8-22) have gone 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position.
"We've got to do a better job of putting some runs up," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's tough for our pitching when we're just scoring one run a night."
That's been a problem against the Phillies, losing four of five meetings this season while scoring seven runs and batting .169. Philadelphia has won 11 of 14 versus Miami as its starters have gone at least six innings in all but one of those games, going 10-1 with a 1.98 ERA.
There's little reason to think Hamels (1-3, 4.78 ERA) can't keep that trend going, especially considering the Marlins are hitting .154 (6 for 39) against left-handers over their last six games. Hamels is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last three outings against Miami, including a 2-1 loss April 13 as he allowed one run and three hits in six innings.
That strong outing came after two mediocre ones to begin the season and he has continued to pitch well, posting a 2.33 ERA in his last four starts with 27 strikeouts in 27 innings. Hamels is coming off his first win despite a career high-tying six walks, giving up one run and two hits over six innings in a 5-1 victory over the Mets.
"I was able to get away with it," the veteran left-hander said of his lack of command.
As good as Hamels and the Phillies starters have been against the Marlins this year, Ryan Howard has caused them big problems as well. He's homered in the first two games of this series and is 9 for 17 with five doubles in five meetings this season.
Howard, who has hit safely in 10 straight at home, has four homers and 12 RBIs over the last nine games. He went deep once and drove in six runs through his first 19.
"He's more patient, he's starting to get good balls to hit and he's staying on the ball better," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Howard went 0 for 3 against Miami's Jose Fernandez on April 13 when the rookie right-hander outpitched Hamels, yielding two hits over six shutout innings. Fernandez (0-2, 4.50), though, has struggled since that game.
He's lasted just 13 innings over his past three starts, giving up 11 runs and 15 hits. Hernandez needed 81 pitches to get through four innings Monday as he allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in a 4-3, 15-inning win over the Mets.