JUN 18, 2014 7:17p ET
Ten days ago, the Philadelphia Phillies were in the cellar of the NL East and falling out of contention in what is shaping up as baseball's most winnable division.
With victories in seven of nine, they've found new life as they begin a demanding four-game road series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.
Philadelphia (32-38) set itself up for a season-best fourth straight victory by completing a three-game sweep in Atlanta with Wednesday's 10-5 win. The 18-hit effort was its best of the season with five players collecting three each.
"It's a good feeling because you put in the work," Byrd said. "It seems like you've put in the work every single day and don't get the results. The results are the key. You start feeling good about yourself. To come out here the whole series and put up runs against a good staff is huge for us, knowing that the work we've put in is starting to show up on the field."
Howard is a career .368 regular-season hitter in his hometown of St. Louis with nine home runs, 35 RBIs and a 1.207 OPS in 26 games.
The Cardinals (39-33), who have won four straight at home over the Phillies, had a five-game winning streak snapped with Wednesday's 3-2 home loss to the New York Mets.
"Obviously sweeps are better than winning two out of three," Matt Carpenter told the team's official website after homering in a 2-for-4 day. "But at the end of the day, we won another series, and if we can continue that and win the rest of them, we'll be happy with how that works out."
St. Louis has won eight of 10 mostly because of exceptional starting pitching. Cardinals starters have a 1.23 ERA and .175 opponent batting average in those games while allowing more than two runs once.
Shelby Miller (7-5, 3.42 ERA) is next in line to keep it going.
Miller's control issues from early in the season re-emerged in his last outing as he walked four while surrendering a run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings while not earning a decision in Saturday's 4-1 win over Washington.
The right-hander matched a season high with seven strikeouts, and he's allowed one run over 15 2-3 innings in his last two starts after yielding 15 in his previous three.
"I think I'm a little bit more prepared, just maturing a little bit more every single start, it seems like," Miller told the team's official website. "I'm just trying to focus the whole entire game."
Miller won 4-1 in his only start against Philadelphia as a rookie, allowing three hits while striking out six in six scoreless innings July 23. Chase Utley went 2 for 3 against him.
Miller will be opposed by David Buchanan (2-3, 5.97), whose 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday ended a three-start losing streak. The right-hander allowed three runs on three home runs and has been tagged for seven homers in his last four starts.
The rookie's run filling in for the injured Cliff Lee could soon be coming to an end with Lee resuming throwing and targeting a potential pre-All Star break return.