Phillies-Pirates Preview

With 13 All-Star appearances, three Cy Young Awards and three

postseason series MVPs, the first four members of the Philadelphia

Phillies’ rotation make it rather easy to overlook any other

starter.

Don’t expect the Pittsburgh Pirates to discount Kyle

Kendrick.

Kendrick has won all four career starts against Pittsburgh, an

outcome the Pirates hope to change when they look to deal the

visiting Phillies a fourth consecutive loss Saturday night.

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels give

Philadelphia (34-23) baseball’s most feared rotation, and Hamels

has been better than anyone lately.

The left-hander pitched well enough to win his fourth

consecutive start Friday, allowing one hit and a run over eight

innings, but the Phillies’ offense couldn’t give Hamels a lift.

Jose Tabata’s 12th-inning single drove in Xavier Paul to give the

Pirates a 2-1 win.

“When you play teams like that, you want to go out there and

prove a point,” Paul said. “Make a statement that we can play with

these guys.”

The Phillies were held to one run or fewer for the second

straight game and 12th time this season – even in their first game

with their regular lineup in 2011.

“I think this lineup is going to hit,” manager Charlie Manuel

said. “It has to hit. I’ve got confidence in those guys

hitting.”

Manuel should feel confident in his mound presence Saturday,

even in a fill-in effort. With Joe Blanton injured and Vance Worley

back in the minor leagues to work on his command, Kendrick (3-3,

3.18 ERA) will make his third start.

The right-hander has had mixed results in the first two,

pitching five scoreless innings in a win over Atlanta on May 7 but

surrendering five runs in three innings in a loss to Colorado on

May 19.

There’s been nothing mediocre about Kendrick’s previous work

against Pittsburgh, though, as he’s posted a 2.61 ERA and lasted at

least seven innings in each of his four starts.

Kendrick’s last trip to PNC Park produced his lone career

complete game, a 12-4 victory July 3.

Philadelphia scored 12 runs in both of Kendrick’s wins over the

Pirates (27-29) last season, but it’ll be hard-pressed to do much

offensively against Charlie Morton (5-2, 2.51).

The right-hander, who leads the majors with a 78.2 ground-ball

percentage thanks to a devastating sinker, has a 1.21 ERA in his

last four starts and right-handers are hitting .190 against him

overall.

Morton got plenty of ground balls Monday against the Mets, but

New York managed to find some holes. Three of the 11 hits he gave

up were infield singles, leading to three runs – one earned –

before leaving without a decision in a 7-3 loss. That was still

enough to impress Mets manager Terry Collins.

“Morton lived up to everything I’ve heard about him and saw

about him,” Collins said. “That is as good a sinker as I’ve seen in

a long time.”

Morton is certainly a better pitcher than the one who went 2-12

with a 7.57 ERA last season, and he’ll hope that leads to improved

results versus Philadelphia. He’s 0-2 with a 9.75 ERA in three

career starts against the Phillies, and Jimmy Rollins is 5 for 7 in

their matchups.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez are a combined 3 for 15

against Morton, but they might find better luck Saturday. While

Morton has thrived getting right-handers out, lefties are batting

.347 against him.