Despite an extra-inning loss against the San Francisco Giants last week, the Phillies must have felt pretty good about themselves. After all, taking two of of three from the defending World Series champs – and tagging Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum for ten runs in the first two games – is still quite an accomplishment.
So when they set their course due east for Phoenix for a four game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks, they had to like their chances of keeping their momentum going on their seven game road trip. It's not like the Diamondbacks were a terribly tough team, and thanks to their off-season trade of Justin Upton, they were certainly a bit lighter on the offensive side of things.
They got off to a rough start against the second-place D'Backs, despite a pair of terrific pitching performances from Cole Hamels and Tyler Cloyd in the first two games of the series. Hamels, despite allowing five walks, held their offense to all of two runs over six innings, but that would prove to be enough for Arizona, who allowed one run to the Phillies, thanks to a gem from rookie starter Patrick Corbin, who allowed one run over 6.1 innings of work.
The Phillies had a better start on Friday in the second game of the series, thanks to two-run first inning brought on by a leadoff homer from Jimmy Rollins to kick things off, followed by an RBI single from Domonic Brown later on in the inning. And like Hamels, starter Tyler Cloyd allowed two runs over 6.1 innings of work in his first start of the season. However, the offense sputtered, and they were held in check after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first. With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, it was reliever Mike Adams who allowed the go-ahead run – a solo shot off the bat of Miguel Montero – that would would to be the difference.
Under most circumstances, both starters would have been in line for the win, but thanks to an offense that was incapable of scoring runs, the Phillies found themselves with a three-game losing streak heading into Saturday.
Fortunately, Cliff Lee toed the rubber on Saturday night, and he proved to be the stopper with seven innings of shutout ball. He was given three runs of support thanks to Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown, who combined to drive in all three Phillie runs on the night. Despite some late-inning shakiness from the bullpen, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the final fave outs to notch his sixth save of the season.
The Phillies handed the ball to newly minted Ace Kyle Kendrick on Sunday for the series split, and he was every bit as good as you'd come to expect from the right-hander. He allowed two runs in the first inning, but then proceeded to shut the D'Backs out for the remainder of his start. The offense, which was quiet for most of the afternoon, sprung to life in the ninth inning against Heath Bell, who allowed two runs on four hits, including the game-tying RBI single from Domonic Brown. They would add two more in the tenth inning, when Ryan Howard knocked in Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley with a one-out single to give the Phillies the lead – and after Papelbon took the mound in the bottom of the inning – the win.
It wasn't the prettiest way to win a series, but it got the job done, and it allowed the Phillies to stay within spitting distance of .500 and the top of the division. With the win on Sunday, they are three games under at 18-21, and four back of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.
Following a much-needed day off on Monday, the Phillies will welcome the Cleveland Indians in for a two game set, where they will send Jonathan Pettibone (2-0, 3.63) to the hill against LHP Scott Kazmir (2-1, 4.87) on Tuesday, and Cole Hamels (1-5, 4.18) against RHP Corey Kluber (2-2, 5.64) on Wednesday.