Phils eye series win over D'Backs

Winning series have been the norm lately for the game set from Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are also targeting their 80th win of the season and moved closer to that mark with Wednesday's 9-2 triumph over the D'Backs in the second installment of this series. Wilson Valdez, filling in at third base for an injured Placido Polanco, stroked a tie-breaking two-run double during a three- run seventh inning to put the hosts ahead for good.

Philadelphia scored seven runs over its last two at-bats and is in position to capture its 14th series over the previous 16 attempts. Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo homer, John Mayberry Jr. added three hits and an RBI and Hunter Pence finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored for the National League East-leading Phillies, who are 8 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta in the division and have won 14 of their last 17 games. They also rebounded from Tuesday's 3-2 series-opening loss.

Cliff Lee allowed three hits, including a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the second inning, and struck out seven batters in seven innings for the win. Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

"After the second inning, I commanded the ball a lot better and stayed out of the heart of the plate," said Lee, who has won four straight starts.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz had the day off to rest and is expected to be behind the plate tonight. Ruiz suffered a bruised left testicle Tuesday, when D'Backs catcher Miguel Montero fouled a ball into him in the seventh inning. Brian Schneider replaced him in the starting lineup Wednesday and finished with a hit and an RBI. First baseman Ryan Howard had his right hand examined after he said he felt something during a swing in the sixth inning.

"I'm cool," Howard said on the Phils' website. "I don't know if it's a little strain. It's some kind of little discomfort. I'll just try to play through it. ... Right now, it's kind of wait and see. I don't know if there's going to be an MRI, but I don't think it's anything that serious."

Vance Worley hopes to put an ugly performance behind him, when he toes the rubber for the Phillies on Thursday. The young right-hander did not record a decision in last Wednesday's 9-8 win at Dodger Stadium, where he was battered for a career-high six runs and seven hits in four innings. Worley has still won six straight decisions and is 8-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) this season.

The bespectacled right-hander has never faced Arizona and will put his unbeaten home mark on the line tonight. In seven starts in south Philly this season, Worley is 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA.

Arizona was aiming for its first eight-game winning streak since 2008 last night, but starter Joe Saunders couldn't get the job done on the mound. The lefty was reached for five runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked four batters.

"If I hadn't walked so many freaking guys, it would've been a better ballgame for us all around," Saunders said afterwards.

The Diamondbacks were battling until the seventh and eighth innings, while reliever Brad Ziegler allowed four runs -- one earned. Goldschmidt's two-run homer highlighted a three-hit night for Arizona, which saw its lead atop the NL West standings dip to 2 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco.

After this set in Philadelphia, Arizona will resume its 10-game road trip in Atlanta and Washington. Ian Kennedy hopes to get his ballclub back into the win column when he aims for an NL-leading 16th win of the season tonight. The right-hander was hammered in Oakland on July 3, when he allowed seven runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-2 setback.

Since that defeat at the Coliseum, Kennedy is a sizzling 7-0 with a 2.44 earned run average in seven starts. It is the longest active streak in the majors. Kennedy pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out five in Friday's 4-3 win over the Mets to lift his season record to 15-3 in 25 starts with a 3.12 ERA. The right-hander is making a case for an NL Cy Young Award.

Kennedy is 8-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 road starts this season and dominated the Phillies in a 4-0 win back on April 25 at Chase Field. He tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out 10 batters to improve to 1-0 in two career starts in this series with a minuscule 1.06 ERA. It was Kennedy's first-career shutout and complete game.

"He pitched great," Phillies starter Cliff Lee said of Kennedy. "To shut down our lineup like that you have to be doing something right. I wouldn't have expected him to go nine innings without letting up a run. That was impressive. He did a great job tonight and that's that."

Arizona took two of three matchups with Philadelphia from April 25-27 in the desert, but the Phillies are 11-6 in the past 17 meetings between the teams. The Phils had won seven in a row at home in this series before Tuesday's game and are still a dominant 22-9 versus the NL West this season. The club record for wins against the NL West since the division switch in 1994 is 23 established during the 1995 campaign (23-20).