Phillies-Diamondbacks Preview

Stellar pitching has the Philadelphia Phillies rolling, and
giving the ball to Cliff Lee against the struggling Arizona
Diamondbacks may just keep it that way.

Lee looks to give the Phillies another strong performance on the
mound as they try to extend their season-best winning streak when
they open a three-game series at Arizona on Monday night.

Philadelphia (15-6) has outscored opponents 16-6 while winning
five games in a row.

The lineup has hit .212 during the streak, so the bulk of the
load has landed on the pitchers. They’ve delivered with a 0.96 ERA
and 44 strikeouts in 47 innings while limiting opposing hitters to
a .188 average with one homer.

The staff held San Diego to three runs during a four-game sweep,
which was capped by Roy Halladay’s gem in Sunday’s 3-1 victory.
Halladay took a shutout into the ninth inning while equaling his
career high of 14 strikeouts.

Lee (2-1, 3.91 ERA) makes his first appearance at Chase Field
looking to keep the streak going, but he’s coming off a shaky
outing in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Milwaukee. The left-hander
allowed three runs – two earned – and eight hits with one strikeout
in six innings after fanning 12 in a three-hitter during a 4-0 win
at Washington six days prior.

“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Lee said Wednesday.

Lee and the Phillies may be in position to benefit from a
favorable schedule. Their next nine games – six at home – come
against the Diamondbacks (8-12), Mets and Nationals.

Lee has won both of his career starts against Arizona, compiling
a 2.57 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings. He last faced the
Diamondbacks on Aug. 19, 2009, when he tossed a two-hitter while
fanning 11 in an 8-1 Phillies win.

Philadelphia has won 10 of the last 13 meetings, but the teams
have split six matchups in Phoenix in that stretch.

Shane Victorino, who had an inside-the-park homer Sunday, is
hitting .362 while collecting five doubles, three triples, three
homers and 12 RBIs over his past 16 games against the
Diamondbacks.

While the Phillies enter this series on their longest winning
streak of 2011, Arizona begins it amid a season-high four-game
slide after falling 8-4 at New York on Sunday.

The Diamondbacks haven’t endured a longer losing streak since
dropping seven in a row July 22-29. They’ve hit .201 while the
starting rotation has compiled a 6.75 ERA during the current skid,
which began after Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Cincinnati behind Ian
Kennedy (2-1, 5.64).

Kennedy yielded one run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings in the
victory, overcoming a sore ankle after getting hit with a grounder
in the fifth.

“My command was not as sharp as it had been earlier in the
game,” said Kennedy, who may have some inspiration Monday, a day
after his wife gave birth to their first child, daughter Nora
Rose.

Kennedy was solid in his only previous start versus
Philadelphia, allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings
while not getting a decision in a 3-2 loss April 24, 2010.

Stephen Drew went 9 for 23 (.391) with five extra-base hits and
five RBIs during Arizona’s 2-4 road trip after getting three hits
with a pair of doubles and two RBIs Sunday.

Chris Young, however, went 0 for 4 Sunday and is mired in a
1-for-21 slump over the last five games. He’ll hope to be boosted
by a return home, where he’s hitting .289 with three of his four
homers and 10 of his 14 RBIs.