The Philadelphia Phillies have enjoyed a surprising offensive surge over the last few weeks, but were brought back to Earth by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
They could be in for another drop-off Thursday against Zack Greinke, who looks to continue his historic season.
Philadelphia (42-66) won 13 of 16 while averaging 5.4 runs and recording 10-plus hits 10 times before losing 4-3 on Wednesday. The Phillies were limited to six hits, including four over starter Brett Anderson's six innings, and struck out 12 times.
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After struggling with Anderson, Greinke (10-2, 1.41 ERA) could be unsolvable, especially less than a month removed from a gem against Philadelphia. He yielded only a second-inning single to Ryan Howard over eight innings in a 6-0 home victory July 9.
"If it wasn't for the base hit that Howard got, it probably would have gotten him close to a no-hitter," catcher Yasmani Grandal said.
Greinke's ERA leads the majors by more than half a point and would be the lowest for a full season since St. Louis' Bob Gibson posted a 1.12 mark in 1968.
The right-hander has surrendered two runs in back-to-back outings after six straight scoreless starts, but remains undefeated since June 13, going 5-0 with a 0.61 ERA in his last eight turns. Opponents are hitting just .141 with no homers in that span, including a 1-for-22 mark with runners in scoring position.
Greinke's stuff might be getting even better as the season wears on. He has 30 strikeouts over 31 innings spanning his last four starts after averaging 7.7 per nine innings previously.
Greinke lost his first career meeting with the Phillies in 2004 but is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six matchups since, including five starts.
Domonic Brown has been one of Philadelphia's hottest bats, hitting .349 with nine RBIs in his last 12 games, but is just 1 for 12 off Greinke.
Chase Utley is expected to rejoin the club after a three-game rehab assignment with Double-A Reading, though it's unclear if he'll be activated from the disabled list Thursday. Utley, hitting just .179 in 65 games, hasn't played since June 22 due to a sprained ankle.
Los Angeles (61-46) dropped six of its first 11 after the All-Star break but is 5-1 since. Howie Kendrick had another nice game Wednesday, going 3 for 5, and is batting .367 over his last seven games, while Yasiel Puig hit his fourth home run in 13 games. Puig had homered as many times in his previous 47 contests.
They'll dig in against an improved David Buchanan (2-5, 6.44), who is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last three outings. He had given up five-plus runs in three of his five starts in April, a stretch that prompted a demotion to Triple-A.
Buchanan has drastically reduced his walks, issuing three bases on balls in his last three starts after walking 15 in the first five. His 7 1-3 innings in Friday's 9-3 win over Atlanta marked the second-longest outing of his career.
"Like I always say, I say it every day, you're constantly auditioning," interim manager Pete Mackanin told MLB's official website. "Your last outing is behind you. You've got to keep pitching well ... He's done that his last three outings for us."
Buchanan won his major league debut against Los Angeles on May 24, 2014, allowing two runs over five innings in a 5-3 victory.