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.