The Philadelphia Phillies are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot and just can't lose with Vance Worley on the mound. In fact, they haven't lost at all this week against two teams likely on their way to the playoffs.
Worley gets his chance at franchise history today when the Phillies aim to complete their first-ever sweep of the Brewers in Milwaukee in the finale of a four-game set. The rookie right-hander has won nine straight decisions.
What's more impressive, though, is the team's 14-game winning streak in Worley starts. It's the longest such run for the Phillies since they won in 15 straight starts by Steve Carlton in 1972. Carlton's streak is the longest of its kind for the Phillies in a single season.
Worley gave up seven hits and a pair of runs over six innings Tuesday in a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves at a soggy Citizens Bank Park. His lone loss of the season came May 29 on the road against the Mets.
If the Phillies can win another Worley start today and St. Louis loses at home to the Braves, Philadelphia will become the first team in the majors to secure a postseason berth. The Phillies also have a magic number of seven to clinch the NL East for a fifth straight year. The Phils hold a 12-game lead on the Braves, who they swept in a three-game set earlier this week.
"I'm happy with that number where we're at," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's amazing, it's what we play for. If we could be 20 up, we would be."
The team, though, won't have second baseman Chase Utley back today or likely for the upcoming series in Houston. He continues to recover from a concussion sustained in Wednesday night's game against Atlanta when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch.
While the Phillies have won six in a row, the NL Central-leading Brewers are on a five-game slide. Milwaukee's lead in the division is down to six games over the Cardinals.
Yovani Gallardo gets the ball today for the Brewers. The righty has dropped his last two starts, both against the Cardinals, posting a 9.28 ERA. He had gone 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA over his previous six starts. Gallardo made his only career regular season start against the Phillies in a 2-1 win on August 3, 2007 at Miller Park.
Last night, LaTroy Hawkins' throwing error in the top of the 10th inning allowed Philadelphia to score the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win.
Hawkins (1-1) started on the mound for the Brewers in the 10th and Raul Ibanez led off with a double to right. Carlos Ruiz followed with a nice bunt that Hawkins picked up and threw wildly to first, allowing Ibanez to score. Hawkins retired the next three batters to keep it a 3-2 game.
Ryan Madson worked around a leadoff walk in the home 10th to give the Phillies their sixth straight victory. With the Braves losing to the Cardinals on Saturday, Philadelphia's magic number to win the NL East for a fifth straight year shrunk to seven.
Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence hit solo homers for the Phillies, who got another solid outing from Cliff Lee. The left-hander gave up two runs -- one earned -- on six hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
"We won. That's all that matters," Lee said. "It's hard to complain when you win. The bullpen kept putting up zeros. Good teams get lucky a lot."
Ex-Phillie Randy Wolf allowed two runs on nine hits over a seven-inning start for the Brewers.
"It's frustrating. We just have to keep on battling and put these games behind us," Wolf said.
The Phillies have won 10 of the past 13 games in this series.