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.