The Diamondbacks will give the ball to their three most effective starters in the three-game weekend series at Philadelphia, a series that gained added importance because they lost three of four games at fellow wild card contender Cincinnati earlier in the week.
Wade Miley, scheduled to start the Friday opener, in on a roll, winning five of his last six decisions with a 2.04 ERA in nine starts since July 1. He beat the Phillies in his only career appearance, striking out seven in six scoreless innings against them on April 23, 2012, at Chase Field.
Patrick Corbin, who will pitch the Sunday finale, also has won his only career start against the Phillies, a 2-1 victory on May 9 at Chase Field. Randall Delgado will start Saturday.
Miley and Corbin are working behind a miniascule sample size, sure, but it is something to build with as the D-backs (65-61) look to make a late-season push. They enter the weekend 9 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and seven games behind the Reds for the second wild-card spot.
The D-backs have 36 games remaining, but they have a favorable schedule moving forward. Based on current standings, the D-backs play only seven of their final 33 games against teams with a winning record. They play only three more games outside the Pacific time zone, that a three-game series in Colorado in late September.
The Phillies (57-70) have made a mini U-turn this week, winning four of their last five games under new manager Ryne Sandberg, the last two on walkoff hits by Mike Young and Domonic Brown to beat Colorado.
Sandberg replaced long-time skipper Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16 after the Phillies lost five of six games on a road trip against division opponents Washington and Atlanta that relegated them to an afterthought in the playoff race.
Pitching matchups: Friday — LHP Wade Miley (9-8, 3.56 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (5-13, 3.61). Saturday — RHP Randall Delgado (4-4, 3.82) vs. RHP Ethan Martin (2-2, 5.23). Sunday — LHP Patrick Corbin (13-3, 2.45) vs. RHP Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 4.02).
Who’s hot for the Diamondbacks: Aaron Hill has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, with a .397 batting average, five doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI. … Martin Prado leads the National League with 31 hits in August. Prado has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and is hitting .375 average in his last 16 games with four doubles, three homers and 17 RBI. His 19 RBI in August are second in the league. … Wil Nieves has hit safely in 14 of his 18 games in August since taking over the starting catcher position with Miguel Montero on the disabled list. … Paul Goldschmidt has seven homers in August, tied for third in the league.
Who’s not: Jason Kubel has three hits in his last 21 at-bats, although two of those hits were two-run, pinch-hit singles. … Situational left-hander Joe Thatcher has given up a base runner in eight of his last nine appearances, covering four innings.
Who’s hot for the Phillies: Hamels has made quality starts in eight of his last nine outings but has only three victories to show for it. His ERA has dropped after each of his last six starts to a season-low 3.61. … First baseman-outfielder Darin Ruf has seven home runs in August, tied with Goldschmidt. … Brown is third in the NL with 27 homers and seventh with 80 RBI.
Who’s not: Michael Young has two hits in his last 16 at-bats. … Chase Utley has four hits in his last 24 at-bats. … Jonathan Papelbon has failed to convert two of his last three save opportunities and with the Phillles slumping has had only two save chances in August.
Notes, quotes, odds and ends: The D-backs are looking for their first series victory in Philadelphia since May 28-30, 2007, when Doug Davis, Micah Owings and Randy Johnsopn started in a three-game sweep. … The Phillies did not make any major moves at the trade deadline despite being nine games out of the wild race, although they quickly fell out of contention by losing 21 of 25 games entering this week. … Third baseman Young was the most talked about trade subject at the July 31 deadline, with Boston, Texas and the Yankees believed to be the most ardent suitors. Young reportedly was willing to waive to his limited no-trade clause, but the Phillies did not like any of the deals presented and backed off for the time being. Young’s name has recently surfaced in connection with Atlanta, which has infielder Dan Uggla on the disabled list. … The Phillies signed speedy outfielder Roger Bernadina on Tuesday after he was released by Washington. … Miley is 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 14 starts since a loss at Wrigley Field on May 31. The D-backs are 10-4 in those starts.