It didn't seem likely a couple days ago, but the Philadelphia Phillies will have momentum on their side Monday when they face the San Diego Padres in their home opener.
After losing their first four games, the Phillies rebounded by taking two straight from the defending NL champion New York Mets. Odubel Herrera homered in Sunday's 5-2 win and Jeremy Hellickson worked into the sixth inning.
Philadelphia (2-4) also got 2 2-3 scoreless innings from relievers James Russell, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez. That was an encouraging sign after the team's relievers posted a 9.88 ERA in the first five games.
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''They were outstanding,'' Hellickson said. ''We said it the first couple games, when they struggled, that they'd bounce back.''
Right-hander Aaron Nola knows all about the bullpen's early struggles. He was in line for a victory at Cincinnati on Wednesday after allowing one run and four hits over seven innings while striking out eight before Dalier Hinojsa surrendered a pair of runs in the ninth.
"I felt like I had command of all of my pitches," Nola said. "I was getting ahead of a lot of guys, which really made a difference."
The right-hander has no decisions in his last three starts despite a 0.95 ERA.
Nola is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against the Padres, limiting them to one run over seven innings in a 7-1 victory at home Aug. 28.
San Diego (2-4) counters with Andrew Cashner, who left himself plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing season debut. He was tagged for five runs and six hits over four innings of a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Cashner is 1-5 with a 5.51 ERA in his last 11 road starts, but is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
After they were shut out in three straight home games by the Dodgers, the Padres rebounded to score 29 runs in consecutive wins at Colorado. They were denied the sweep, however, with Sunday's 6-3 loss.
"Winning a series here was a big boost, especially after how we started theseason," manager Andy Green said. "It was good for our team to take the series."
Matt Kemp, who went 7 for 15 with three homers and 10 RBIs in the Colorado series, should be happy the next four games are in Philadelphia. He's a lifetime .362 hitter at Citizens Bank Park with 14 RBIs in 18 games.
The Padres put third baseman Yangervis Solarte on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring suffered Friday.
"It's frustrating, it's early in the season, I'm trying to help the team, trying to play well," Solarte told the team's official website through an interpreter. "It's frustrating, but I can't do anything about it. Especially having gotten an opportunity this year, I think anyone would be frustrated."
The Phillies won five of six against the Padres last season, with their starters posting a 2.39 ERA.