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Cardinals-Phillies Preview 2008-07-10


Cardinals-Phillies Preview 2008-07-10
The Philadelphia Phillies' offense didn't look too much better their last time out, but they managed enough runs to get a rare win at home.

The NL East-leading Phillies look to get their bats untracked and win a series at Citizens Bank Park for the first time in a month when they wrap up their three-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

After losing Tuesday's series opener 2-0, Philadelphia (49-43) defeated the Cardinals 4-2 on Wednesday to snap a four-game home losing streak and win for the second time in its last 11 at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are fourth in the majors with 461 runs, but are averaging 2.8 in their last 11 home games.

"Big four-run outburst we had," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel joked after Wednesday's victory.

The Phillies remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Florida and the New York Mets, who are tied for second in the division. They are looking to win their first home series since taking three of four from Cincinnati June 2-5.

While Philadelphia's offense has been struggling lately, slugger Ryan Howard appears more comfortable at the plate, as he's batting .340 (16-for-47) with six home runs and 15 RBIs during a season-high 12-game hitting streak - raising his average from .213 to .231 in that span.

On Tuesday, Howard drove in two runs and led off the eighth with his 25th homer of the season, tying All-Star teammate Chase Utley for the major league lead. Howard leads the league with 80 RBIs, but also leads the majors with 124 strikeouts.

"As long as he's a run producer and hitting in big moments of the game, to me, that might be the most important thing," Manuel said.

St. Louis' offense has also been in a bit of a rut, as it has scored two runs or less in five of its last six games. The Cardinals (51-41) have dropped 4 1/2 games back of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis All-Stars Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick were a combined 1-for-7 on Wednesday, and they may not fare much better against Thursday's scheduled starter Jamie Moyer (7-6, 4.12 ERA). Pujols is hitless in seven career at-bats against Moyer, while Ludwick is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts against him.

Moyer gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-4 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday, but did not factor in the decision. The 45-year-old left-hander is mired in a minor slump, going 0-3 with a 4.13 ERA in his last four starts after going 5-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his previous six outings.

The losing streak has not all been Moyer's fault, as he's received five total runs of support in his last four games. He received an average of 11.03 runs of support in his previous six games.

Moyer hasn't needed much run support against St. Louis lately, though. The 22-year veteran is 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his last four starts versus the Cardinals, and 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 total games - 10 starts - against them.

St. Louis counters with Braden Looper (9-6, 4.15), who makes his first career start versus Philadelphia.

Looper allowed two runs - both on solo homers - and six hits and threw a career-high 120 pitches in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday. Although he took his first loss since June 6, the right-hander has been pitching well lately, going 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA in his last six starts.

Looper is 2-4 with a 5.83 ERA in 58 relief appearances against the Phillies.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 10, 2008

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