After a tough loss Tuesday extended their losing streak to three games, the Phillies seemed to be on a bit of thin ice. The bats had gone cold, the bullpen was looking dubious, and an early-season division lead seemed to be vaporizing before their very eyes.
Leave it to the veterans, Roy Halladay and Jamie Moyer, to turn the tides back in Philly’s favor. Jamie picked up where Roy left off Thursday, permitting seven baserunners in six innings, allowing only two to cross as unearned runs as the Phillies defeated the Braves, 8-3. Moyer, who has looked steady and solid since the first inning of his last start against the Marlins, struck out four and suffered his only blemishes in the fifth inning as a result of some defensive miscues. The bullpen finished the night with three innings of one-run ball to seal the game and the series.
The Phils passed a tough test, overcoming the vaunted pitching staff of the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. Utley briefly brought unpleasant flashbacks of the 2009 NLCS with a pair of errors in the fifth, but the second base stalwart collected four hits in 11 at-bats this series, and faced a series-leading 73 pitches in his 14 plate appearances. Oh, and he made a pretty nifty play in the second game, lest we forget.
Philly starters have been excellent in the time following Moyer’s frustrating first inning against the Fish. In the starters’ last 36 innings – right after that poor opening inning from Moyer’s last start – they have permitted just two earned runs (four total) with 28 strikeouts against just 22 hits and five walks. Starting pitching has certainly provided a big lift.
In injury news, the Phillies placed J.A. Happ on the Disabled List with left forearm tightness, though with the way the schedule and rotation are set up, Happ may only miss one start. Nelson Figueroa is slated to take his place on the next turn through the rotation. Placido Polanco, who was hit by a pitch Wednesday, is expected to return to the lineup Friday after sitting out the series finale against Atlanta.
Friday kicks off a western road trip, beginning in Arizona, with Cole Hamels set to toe the rubber against former Lehigh Valley IronPig Kris Benson. Game time is 9:40 p.m. eastern.