Phillies hope to get on track in meeting with Twins

The Philadelphia Phillies hope to avoid a ninth loss in 10 games this evening when they open a three-game interleague set with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

The five-time defending National League East champion Phillies enter this series in the cellar of their division, 10 games back in the loss column of the front-running Washington Nationals.

Philadelphia didn't help itself any over the weekend, as it dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles, falling in Sunday's rubber match, 5-4, in 10 innings.

Philadelphia starter Cliff Lee remained winless on the season after giving up four runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts over six frames. Hunter Pence knocked in two runs and Juan Pierre scored twice in the loss.

"We still have a long way to go but every loss hurts," admitted Pence. "We have to start winning some series."

Hoping to change their fortunes tonight, the Phils will send Kyle Kendrick to the hill. The righty had won his previous two starts before getting roughed up by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Kendrick gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings of that one and fell to 2-5 on the year, while raising his ERA to 4.44.

"It's frustrating," Kendrick said. "We have to get a win and start something."

Minnesota, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak stopped and was denied a sweep in its series with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, falling 8-2.

Francisco Liriano (1-7) was touched for four runs on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings for the Twins, who had won six of their last seven entering the contest.

The Twins will hand the ball to righty Nick Blackburn, who is 2-4 with a 7.75 ERA. Blackburn beat the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, holding them to a pair of runs and five hits in five innings.

Blackburn was hammered in his only other start against the Phillies, as he didn't get out of the second inning, recording just five outs, while surrendering eight runs.

Minnesota took two of three from the Phillies the last time these teams met back in 2010. However, Philadelphia claimed a series win in its last visit to Minnesota back in 2004.