The Arizona Diamondbacks passed the first test of a 10-game road trip and look to continue their rise to the top of the NL West standings when they invade Philadelphia tonight for the opener of a three-game series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Diamondbacks recorded a much-needed three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with Wednesday's 4-0 win at Chavez Ravine and now sit just two games behind the San Francisco Giants for the division lead. L.A. is only one-half game off the pace and couldn't solve Arizona's pitchers in the series finale.
Patrick Corbin held the Dodgers to a pair of hits in six shutout innings, while Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz each threw a scoreless inning of relief to preserve the two-hitter.
"We pitched well and swung the bats. We're coming together," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said afterward.
Miguel Montero homered and finished with three RBI, while Chris Johnson continued to shine in an Arizona uniform by going deep. Johnson is batting .545 with two homers, seven RBI and a .615 on-base percentage in three games with the D-backs, winners in 10 of the last 13 games. The Diamondbacks are three games over .500 for the first time since April 17 (7-4) and went 12-8 in a stretch of 20 games in a row.
Arizona also will visit Pittsburgh for four games on this road swing and hopes Ian Kennedy can win his fourth straight start tonight. Kennedy made it three wins in a row in Saturday's 6-3 victory over the New York Mets and allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts.
Kennedy improved to 9-8 on the season in 21 starts to go along with a 4.20 earned run average. The right-hander only is 4-6 in 11 road assignments this season and 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
Philadelphia is back home for a nine-game stay versus Arizona, Atlanta and St. Louis after coming up short in its quest for a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals following Thursday's 3-0 loss.
Cole Hamels was saddled with the loss and allowed all three runs on eight hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked one batter.
"That's the game and you just have to get back on the mound the next time," Hamels said. "Unfortunately giving up a few runs and not scoring any, you're not going to win the game."
Kevin Frandsen, Chase Utley and Michael Martinez had the Phillies' three hits, as the club lost for the fourth time in six tries following a four-game winning streak -- all at home. The Phillies went 2-4 on the road trip and still sit last in the NL East standings.
And the Phils weren't done, as shortly before the start of Friday's contest the team dealt scheduled starter Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later. Blanton had to pass through waivers in order for a deal to be made.
It has also been reported that the Phils have placed lefty Cliff Lee on waivers.
So instead of Blanton, the Phils will turn to righty Kyle Kendrick, who is 4-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 25 games, 13 of which have been starts. His last start came back on July 6 against Atlanta and he tossed seven scoreless innings, but received a no decision in a 5-0 loss.
Kendrick was battered by the Diamondbacks to the tune of seven runs in three innings back on April 23 and is 0-1 in six games (5 starts) with a 6.28 ERA against them.
Philadelphia won two of three meetings with Arizona from April 23-25 in the desert and is 9-1 in the last 10 matchups as the host. D-backs outfielder Jason Kubel is 9-for-22 (.409) with two homers and five RBI in six games against the Phillies.