While early July may be too soon to label a game must-win,
Wednesday night’s series finale may be a vital one for the
Philadelphia Phillies as they pursue the Atlanta Braves in the NL
The reigning two-time NL champion Phillies try to avoid a defeat
that would drop them six games behind the front-running Braves in
Philadelphia (43-39) is in third place in the East and trying to
regroup from a 6-3, 11-inning loss Tuesday. Raul Ibanez hit a
two-run homer in the first and Ryan Howard added an RBI triple in
the seventh to tie the game at 3, but the rest of the team had just
one hit as the Phillies lost for the fifth time in seven games.
A lack of clutch hitting has plagued Philadelphia in its recent
slump. The Phillies are batting .212 (11 for 52) with runners in
scoring position the last seven games, and Jayson Werth typified
those struggles – striking out looking after Howard’s no-out
“I don’t think you can hit if you don’t swing,” Phillies
manager Charlie Manuel said. “You got to score there. You have a
man on third with nobody out, you have to score period.”
While the offense works out of its funk, the Phillies will turn
to reliable veteran Jamie Moyer (9-7, 4.13 ERA), who will try to
beat the Braves (49-35) for a third time in as many starts this
year. The 47-year-old became the oldest player in major league
history to throw a shutout – a two-hitter – in his last outing
against them May 7.
“Jamie carved us tonight,” Braves slugger Chipper Jones said
after that game. “The guy is 87 years old and he’s still pitching
for a reason. He stays off the barrel. He changes speeds, changes
the game plan and keeps you guessing.”
Moyer, on the verge of his 16th 10-win season, is 6-9 lifetime
against the Braves. He had a three-start winning streak snapped
Friday in a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh despite striking out a
season-high eight in six innings.
Jones is 8 for 24 with three doubles and a homer lifetime versus
Moyer and will try to help the Braves to their third straight
series win against a division rival. Matt Diaz likely will get a
second straight start in left field after going 3 for 5 and
providing the go-ahead RBI double in the top of the 11th.
“It’s definitely a fun park to hit in,” said Diaz, a lifetime
.333 hitter at Citizens Bank Park. “It’s one of the top two or
three parks to hit in. In fact, it’s probably No. 1. The ball
Kris Medlen (5-1, 3.01) is undefeated since joining the rotation
in May, going 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 10 starts. He did not get a
decision Friday versus Florida, yielding one run in 6 1-3 innings
of a 4-3, 11-inning victory.
The right-hander has no record in three outings – including one
start – against Philadelphia in 2010, giving up three runs and 13
hits in 6 2-3 innings. Medlen made his first start of the season
versus the Phillies on May 8, allowing one run and nine hits in 4
1-3 innings of a 4-1 victory.