MLB

Phillies-Red Sox Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies haven't been shy about throwing the two pitching prospects they received for Cole Hamels into the mix.

Alec Asher's next audition comes in Saturday's visit to the Boston Red Sox, who have been one of the best offensive teams in the majors since right before the deal was finalized.

Asher is the second pitcher from the July 31 trade with Texas to start in the majors for the Phillies after Jerad Eickhoff debuted Aug. 21. The 23-year-old impressed by going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but his MLB debut wasn't as glamorous.

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Asher surrendered four runs and eight hits with two home runs in 5 2-3 innings of Sunday's 9-4 home loss to San Diego. It probably wasn't the beginning the right-hander had hoped for, but his interim manager saw promise.

"I liked him," Pete Mackanin told MLB's official website. "I liked his stuff. I liked his approach. He got behind too often, he left the ball up in the zone a little too often. It's understandable when a guy is in his first major league appearance in front of his home (fans)."

Fenway Park figures to provide an even more demanding setting. The Red Sox (62-72) opened the series with Friday's 7-5 win, and for all their struggles, they're 18-13 in their last 31 at home. Dating to July 30, they've hit an MLB-leading .295 and averaged 6.0 runs, which trails only Toronto and the New York Mets.

Philadelphia (53-82), meanwhile, has a 6.48 ERA over a 3-8 span and is in danger of dipping to 30 games under .500 again after peeking out over that mark July 22. The Phillies haven't won a series at Fenway since 1999, going 4-11 with a 7.53 ERA out of the starting staff.

Boston's Mookie Betts is hitting .341 on a 10-game hitting streak, and Jackie Bradley's .400 average over his last 25 contests trails only Cleveland's Francisco Lindor (.402).

David Ortiz has come around with a .348 average, nine homers and 23 RBIs in his last 26 games. Xander Bogaerts is hitting .362 in his last 24, and the shortstop's .321 average is 22 points higher than his career on-base percentage entering the season.

"Coming up in the minors, I know I've always had good (offensive) numbers," Bogaerts said. "Last year, I kind of got away from my whole approach that I always had coming up. Some stuff went on last year that we all know. But this is a new year, fresh."

They'll try to keep bringing the support for Wade Miley.

Miley (10-10, 4.57 ERA) has made it through at least six innings in his last six starts, but the last two haven't been impressive, going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA. He hasn't surrendered a home run and has only issued two walks, but he's been incredibly hittable with a .386 opponent batting average.

The left-hander has at least improved in his last three home starts with a 2-0 record and 2.14 ERA after going 4-4 with a 5.34 mark in his first nine there.

Jeff Francoeur (3 for 4), Cody Asche (2 for 3) and Darin Ruf (2 for 4 with a home run and a double) have had some success off Miley.

Boston's Pablo Sandoval was scratched from Friday's game because of back tightness, and Hanley Ramirez has missed seven straight with a sore right shoulder.