Phillies-Dodgers Preview

With his team struggling at the plate, Philadelphia Phillies
manager Charlie Manuel made a lineup change before the series
opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He might have to try something else Tuesday night to get the
Phillies going as they continue their three-game set at Dodger
Stadium.

The Phillies (73-58) lead the NL wild-card race by 1 1/2 games
over San Francisco and trail Atlanta by three in the East despite
batting .184 over their last 12 contests. To get better production,
Manuel moved Chase Utley up to the second spot in the order – from
his usual No. 3 position – placed Placido Polanco behind him and
moved Ryan Howard one spot down.

Instead of solving its woes, Philadelphia managed only Shane
Victorino’s eighth-inning single in Monday’s 3-0 loss to the
Dodgers, who were playing their first game without slugger Manny
Ramirez.

“We waited a long time before we got a hit, didn’t we?” Manuel
said. “If that lineup doesn’t hit, then we’re in trouble. That was
the lineup we wanted to put on the field from day one.”

Utley is hitting .147 with three RBIs and eight strikeouts over
his last nine games. Howard is batting .082 in his last 13 contests
and .111 since returning from the disabled list (ankle)
Saturday.

“We definitely need Chase and Ryan to get hot,” Manuel told the
team’s website.

The Phillies will try to snap out of their hitting funk against
Dodgers rookie Carlos Monasterios (3-4, 3.54 ERA), who has lost
four straight decisions. The right-hander, who is filling in for an
injured Vicente Padilla, is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA since rejoining the
rotation Aug. 20, tossing 4 1-3 innings in each of his two
outings.

He allowed one run and two hits in a 7-1 victory Thursday in
Milwaukee, and will make his first start against Philadelphia. The
only time he faced the Phillies on Aug. 10, Monasterios gave up two
runs and four hits over 1 2-3 innings.

The Dodgers (68-64) are 5 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the
wild-card race.

“I don’t think our goal has changed at all,” pitcher Hiroki
Kuroda said. “Manny is gone, but we have a great team.”

To keep fending off Los Angeles, Philadelphia will look to Kyle
Kendrick (8-7, 4.64), who has lost consecutive starts and is 1-3
with a 6.23 ERA in his last four. The right-hander gave up four
runs and nine hits over six innings in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to
Houston.

Despite Kendrick’s struggles, the Phillies have stayed afloat in
part due to a 2.10 ERA from their pitching staff. However, they
haven’t figured out how to pitch to former catcher Rob Barajas, who
homered in Monday’s victory.

Barajas, a member of the 2007 Philadelphia squad, is batting
.514 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs against his former club since
leaving them. He has a solo homer in two at-bats against
Kendrick.

The Dodgers and Phillies have split four games this season but
Los Angeles has won eight of the past 10 home meetings.