The Philadelphia Phillies hope to avoid their longest losing streak in nearly 14 years on Tuesday night when they begin a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants and their struggling starter Barry Zito.
The Phillies opened the second half of the season with a nine-game road trip and got things off to a winning start by beating the New York Mets for their fourth victory in five games. However, Philadelphia lost the final eight games of the swing, including three-game sweeps in St. Louis and Detroit.
It marked the Phillies' worst road trip of nine or more games since also going 1-8 on July 28-Aug. 6, 1995 and the club fell a season-worst seven games under .500 at 49-56.
The ugly road trip was capped with a 12-4 loss in Detroit on Sunday, a game that saw the Tigers score eight unearned runs in the sixth inning thanks in part to three Philadelphia errors.
"I've seen us take a lot beatings, but I won't say that tops it. But, at the same time, that was a rough inning, real rough," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
The Phillies have lost eight straight for the first time since Sept. 18-24, 2011 and are on the verge of their longest skid since a 10-game losing streak from Sept. 4-14, 1999.
Facing Zito on the road could help Philadelphia avoid a ninth loss in a row. The Giants left-hander is 0-6 with a 9.89 earned run average in eight road starts this season and has not won since May 30.
In nine starts since, Zito is 0-4 with a 6.35 ERA. He has failed to pitch past the fifth inning in four games over that stretch, including last Tuesday versus Cincinnati. Zito logged 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision, giving up three runs on six hits and three walks.
The 35-year-old is 4-7 with a 4.92 ERA in 20 starts this season and did pitch well at home over the Phillies on May 8. He did not get a decision despite seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball and is 3-3 lifetime versus the Phillies with a 4.14 ERA in eight games.
John Lannan counters for the Phillies and is 2-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 10 starts this season.
The 28-year-old southpaw yielded just a total of one run and eight hits over 16 innings in two starts prior to a loss at St. Louis on Wednesday. Lannan allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings of that contest.
"There are going to be games like this where I give up hits. I just have to try and limit the damage. I didn't do that tonight," Lannan said.
Lannan will try to rebound tonight versus the Giants, who he is 0-1 against lifetime with a 1.74 ERA in three starts.
San Francisco squares off against Lannan one day after visiting the White House for the second time in three years as the defending champions. The Giants have a lot of work to do if they want to repeat as they just went 3-7 on a 10-game homestand and sit 10 games out of first place in the NL West.
The Giants capped their stay at home by getting swept in three games by the Chicago Cubs in San Francisco for the first time since 1993. They went just 4- for-23 with runners in scoring position during the set and lost Sunday's contest 2-1.
Tim Lincecum took a hard-luck loss after giving up two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
"In all my years I haven't seen a team quite go through such a hard time getting runs in like we're having right now," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a shame because we've got great pitching."
The Giants averaged just 2.1 runs per game on the homestand and have not homered in eight straight games.
The Phillies took two of three in San Francisco from May 6-8.