Phillies (23-23) at St. Louis Cardinals (25-20)
8:15 p.m. on CSN
In the Phillies most impressive offensive showing of the season, they scored six early runs and continued to pile on for insurance even as the Cardinals came back to tie the game at seven. The result was a 10-9 win that moved the Phils back to .500 and further accentuated their month-long offensive surge (see story).
On Friday, the Phils aim to move back over .500, where theyve spent just four of 46 games.
Cliff Lee takes the hill at Busch Stadium in search of his first win since Sept. 2011. Lee, 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA, is opposed by Cardinals righty and former Phillie Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91).
Lee has been brilliant this season but has little to show for it. He had a 1.95 ERA before allowing five runs over seven innings in his last start. He hasn't won despite pitching 10 shutout innings, eight innings of one-run ball (with 10 strikeouts) and a two-hitter over six innings. The Phillies have scored a grand total of 10 runs in 44 innings with Lee in the game.
Lohses command in 2012 has been excellent. Hes walked one or no batters in eight of nine starts and on the season has a 36-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
But he is currently on a trip back to earth after a torrid start to the season. Lohse was 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA through four starts, but has a 4.76 ERA in his last five outings.
Lohse has gotten a bit lucky this season. Hes allowed 40 line drives for a rate of 23.3 percent, a career-high. Yet hes allowing fewer hits than his career average.
The 33-year-old righty is a three-pitch pitcher. This season hes thrown a high-80slow-90s fastball 55 percent of the time, a mid-80s slider 24 percent and low-80s changeup about 17 percent. The remaining pitches have been curveballs.
The Phillies bullpen in the last seven games has a 1.86 ERA, a .174 opponents batting average and 25 strikeouts to just two walks.
Raul Valdes, Chad Qualls, Jacob Diekman, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon combined to produce 14 outs on Thursday after Joe Blanton was pulled after 4 13 innings.
Lance Berkman is out 8-10 weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Take his bat out of the equation and current Cardinals are 10 for 57 lifetime off Lee for a .175 batting average.
But Lee, as accurate as he is, has walked Matt Holliday four times in 10 plate appearances. Holliday looks like hes heating up he has four homers and nine RBI in his last 10 games, including a mammoth blast to left field on Thursday so Lee should be extra careful.
Rafael Furcal is 2 for 3 in his career off Lee with a dinger.
Current Phillies are batting .299.356.452 off Lohse in a whopping 261 at-bats.
Hunter Pence is 13 for 41 (.317), Juan Pierre is 6 for 12 with a double and a triple and Placido Polanco is 10 for 28 (.357).
The combination of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz, though, is just 15 for 71 (.211).
Victorino is seeing the ball better now than he has all season. Hes 11 for 23 over his last six games with five doubles and a homer.
Note of interest
After Thursdays 18-hit outburst, the Phillies lead Major League Baseball in May with a .286 team batting average.
Will Friday be the night Lee finally wins?
E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com