Kyle Kendrick has been key to the Philadelphia Phillies' unlikely run at a playoff spot. He hopes to continue his surge on Saturday night in the third installment of a four-game series against the Houston Astros.
Kendrick has spent time in both the rotation and in the bullpen this season, but has secured himself as a starter for the stretch run by going 5-1 over his last six starts with a 1.49 earned run average. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of those outings and is coming off a win against the Miami Marlins on Monday.
The right-hander continued to impress by striking out a career-high eight batters while holding the Marlins to a run on two hits and three walks over seven innings of a 3-1 decision. He did not allow his first hit until the sixth.
Kendrick is 9-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 33 total appearances this season, including 21 starts. The 28-year-old is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five lifetime meetings with the Astros, three of those starts.
The Phillies had a seven-game winning streak halted with a loss in Thursday's opener, but rebounded on Friday to claim a 12-6 victory and move back to within three games of the St. Louis Cardinals for the league's second wild card spot.
Domonic Brown and Jimmy Rollins both homered on Friday, while Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. each drove in three runs in a rout that saw starter Cole Hamels notch his 15th victory of the season.
The lefty settled down after some early issues to yield four runs -- three earned -- over seven innings while fanning eight.
"By the third inning he started using his fastball more and I think it kind of helped him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said about Hamels.
Matt Downs clubbed a two-run home run and Justin Maxwell added a solo shot for the Astros, who took the opener 6-4. Edgar Gonzalez suffered the loss after allowing five runs on six hits in four innings.
"They swung the bats extremely well tonight and you have to take your hat off to them," Downs said about the Phillies.
Taking the mound for the Astros will be Dallas Keuchel, who is still winless since picking up his first career victory on June 23 in what was the rookie's second career start.
Keuchel has lost seven straight decisions over 11 starts since and Houston has won only one of those games. The lefty did not factor into a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday, allowing a run on six hits and two walks in four innings.
The 24-year-old Keuchel is 1-7 with a 5.35 ERA in 13 starts and will face the Phillies for the first time.
The Astros were swept in a two-game set at Philadelphia from May 14-15 and have lost seven of the previous 10 matchups between the two clubs.