The Philadelphia Phillies are at rock bottom right now and hope to turn things around when they start the second half of the season tonight against the Colorado Rockies in the opener of a three-game series.
The five-time defending NL East champions are last in the division -- 14 games behind upstart Washington -- and were swept in three games by the Atlanta Braves before the All-Star break. Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Braves dropped the Phillies to 1-10 in their last 11 games. Vance Worley pitched that day and allowed three runs in six innings, while Raul Valdes suffered the loss in relief after giving up the go-ahead run on a homer to Brian McCann.
"I was around the zone, and they put the bat on the ball," Worley said. "They fouled a lot of pitches off and made me grind today."
Jason Pridie filled in for a slumping Shane Victorino in center field and added a home run and three RBI for the Phillies, who will begin a six-game road trip Friday against the Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Philadelphia is waiting the return of starting pitcher Roy Halladay (shoulder) and already welcomed back Chase Utley (knee) and Ryan Howard (Achilles). Halladay just pitched three innings in a rehab stint with Clearwater and could return to the rotation next week.
"He was happy just to get back out on the mound again," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, on the club's website. "It had been awhile since he was out there."
Cliff Lee will handle pitching duties for the Phillies tonight and recorded his first win of the season on July 4 against the New York Mets. Lee struck out nine and gave up two runs in eight innings of a 9-2 win, as he improved to 1-5 in 14 starts with a 3.98 earned run average. Lee is 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA in three regular and postseason starts against Colorado.
The Rockies will kick off a six-game homestand versus Philadelphia and Pittsburgh tonight and went 3-4 on a seven-game road trip through St. Louis and Washington before the break.
Colorado took two of three meetings against the Nationals from July 6-8 and won the series with last Sunday's 4-3 win. Jordan Pacheco scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth inning and Rafael Betancourt struck out two in the bottom half for his 15th save.
Eric Young Jr. homered, while Dexter Fowler and Pacheco both had two hits and a run scored for the Rockies.
"I hit it and I was like 'aww, yeah,'" Young said. "That's one of those [batting practice] feelings when you know you catch one in [batting practice] and it was just a matter of if it had the height, and then once I saw it, it was like, 'yeah, that's gonna get over.'"
Colorado is last in the NL West at 13 games off the pace and will send Christian Friedrich to the mound Friday. Friedrich is 0-5 with a 7.85 earned run average in his last six starts -- all Colorado losses -- and was beaten by the Cardinals his last time out on July 5. In the 6-2 setback at Busch Stadium, Friedrich was reached for six runs in 4 1/3 innings to fall to 4-6 in 12 starts to go along with a 5.98 ERA.
The young left-hander is 1-3 in five starts at Coors Field and will face the Phillies for the first time.
Philadelphia won two of three games versus the Rockies from June 19-21 this season at Citizens Bank Park and has won 11 of the past 13 matchups in the series.