Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

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Phillies-Marlins: 5 things you need to know

The Phillies matched a season-high on Tuesday with their third straight win of the season, and despite losing Cliff Lee to the 15-day DL shortly after the game, they'll look to build some momentum Wednesday in Miami.

Here are five bullet points for the middle game of the series at 7:05 p.m. on CSN:

Rollins on fire
Jimmy Rollins' go-ahead, two-run homer Tuesday night was his sixth of the season, matching his total from 2013.

It took Rollins 421 fewer plate appearances this season to reach HR No. 6 than it did last season. He's hitting .268/.366/.450 with six homers, 20 RBIs, five doubles, two triples and six steals.

Rollins' .816 OPS ranks third among all major-league shortstops, behind only Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez.

Since moving into the leadoff spot, Rollins has reached base in eight of 18 plate appearances.

Can Kendrick win?
Kyle Kendrick hasn't won a game since Aug. 6, 2013, 15 starts ago. Over that span he's 0-9 with a 4.83 ERA.

But those ugly numbers do not tell the whole story. Kendrick has pitched well this year, making five quality starts in eight tries.

Kendrick has finished seven innings in half of his starts this year and only twice has he allowed more than three runs in a game.

His last time out against the Reds, Kendrick allowed a first-inning, three-run homer to Devin Mesoraco and then retired 19 of the next 21 batters he faced.

These Marlins haven't done much against Kendrick, and that surprisingly includes Giancarlo Stanton, who is just 3 for 21 against him with eight strikeouts.

In his only career start at spacious Marlins Park, Kendrick pitched seven shutout innings.

Eovaldi is evolving
Marlins 24-year-old fireballer Nate Eovaldi has emerged this season. In nine starts, he is 2-2 with a 3.62 ERA, but before being lit up in San Francisco last Thursday his ERA was 2.86.

Eovaldi has 50 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 54 2/3 innings. He's also induced groundballs at a 53 percent rate. Those peripherals forecast a very productive season from Eovaldi and are very similar to the ones put up by A.J. Burnett in 2012 and 2013.

Eovaldi throws a fastball that averages 94 to 98 mph and a slider in the high-80s. On rare occasions he'll throw a curveball and changeup.

Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz have each hit three doubles against Eovaldi, who was dealt from the Dodgers to the Marlins in 2012 for Hanley Ramirez.

Diekman's found it
Jake Diekman pitched two crucial scoreless innings after Burnett was forced out of Tuesday's game early for a pinch-hitter.

Diekman has not allowed a run in May. His line for the month: 10 2/3 innings, four hits, no runs, four walks, 14 strikeouts.

The Phillies' bullpen has been seeking stability all season and it appears the club has found it with Diekman, who can be used in a multitude of ways. Diekman has 34 strikeouts and just nine walks in 23 innings this season.

This and that
• The Phillies are now 10-7 in one-run games.

• At 12-10, the Phils have the best road record of any NL East team.

• The Phillies will need innings out of Kendrick tonight. Jonathan Papelbon and Diekman each threw 27 pitches and Mike Adams threw 25. You'd figure that at least one and maybe two of them would be unavailable for the middle game of the series.

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro returns as Phillies go for sweep of Dodgers

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CSN

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro returns as Phillies go for sweep of Dodgers

After getting hit by a pitch on the hand on Tuesday night, catcher Jorge Alfaro is back in the lineup for the Phillies, who are aiming for a four-game sweep of the Dodgers.

On Wednesday, Alfaro was replaced by Andrew Knapp, who had one hit in three at-bats in a rare start.

Freddy Galvis, hitless in his last two games, is 4 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda.

For the first time in the last several weeks, cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins is not in the spotlight for the Phillies. Instead, the attention has been on Aaron Altherr, who will try to finish an impressive series in style. Altherr, who hits fifth again on Thursday, is 5 for 11 with three homers and nine RBIs in the first three games against Los Angeles.

Odubel Herrera, who batted third last night and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, hits sixth. His season batting average from that spot in the order is .340. 

Here is today's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. JP Crawford, 3B
9. Mark Leiter, P

Here is the Dodgers lineup: 

1. Chris Taylor, CF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. Cody Bellinger, 1B
4. Yasiel Puig, RF
5. Curtis Granderson, LF
6. Chase Utley, 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal, C
8. Logan Forsythe, SS
9. Kenta Maeda, P

Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

BOX SCORE

Somewhere in the basement of Citizens Bank Park sits a stash of champagne, chilled and ready to go for a celebration in the visiting clubhouse. It's only a matter of time before the Los Angeles Dodgers clinch their fifth straight National League West crown, but the Phillies would prefer it did not happen in their house.

The Phillies aren't saying that verbally.

They're saying it with their actions.

They've played some of their best and most exciting baseball of the season the last three nights in taking the first three games of a four-game series against the Dodgers. All three of the wins have been come-from-behind efforts. The Phillies set themselves up for a series sweep with a 7-5 win Wednesday night (see observations). The victory included two more big hits from Aaron Altherr and a game-ending catch by centerfielder Odubel Herrera that left you wondering how to say 'Wow!' in Spanish (see video).

Herrera burst into laughter when he was asked that question after the game.

His answer: "Wow!"

Altherr has delivered several Wow! moments in this series. There was his decisive grand slam against Clayton Kershaw in the opener, another home run in Tuesday night's win and four more RBIs on Wednesday night.

Altherr hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the seventh inning on a hanging breaking ball from Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling. Two batters later, Tommy Joseph went deep on another hanger from Stripling as the Phillies took a 5-4 lead.

The Phillies' bullpen has been excellent lately, but it struggled in this game and let leads of 2-1 and 5-4 get away.

But these Phillies aren't just playing out the string. They have young players trying to show they belong and that's creating problems for the 96-win Dodgers. After giving up the lead in the top of the eighth, the Phillies rallied for two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead for good. The rally featured a leadoff walk by Cesar Hernandez, a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis, a Dodgers' error, an intentional walk to Rhys Hoskins to load the bases and a two-run line drive hit to right by Altherr to put the Phils ahead.

Altherr, activated less than two weeks ago after a month-long stay on the disabled list, has nine RBIs in the first three games of the series. For the season, he is hitting .281 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 97 games. His OPS is .890.

"I'm just seeing the ball really well now. I got my timing back," Altherr said. "It's good when those two things come together. I'm just a lot more relaxed at the plate. I'm driving the ball better.

"I think when I first came back I was probably trying to do too much. You know, just trying to make up for lost time. It wasn't working. I went back to relaxing at the plate and letting the ball come to me and putting a good swing on it."

Altherr's decisive two-run single with one out in the eighth came against right-hander Brandon Morrow. Lefty Luis Avilan started the inning and loaded the bases on an intentional walk to Hoskins one batter before Altherr came up.

"That's part of the game," Altherr said of the intentional walk. "But, obviously, you still want to prove them wrong in thinking I'm an easier out. I just wanted to do the best I could to hit the ball hard somewhere."

Jake Thompson pitched five innings, ran a high pitch count, but exited the game with a lead.

He enjoyed watching from the dugout as his teammates rallied for five runs in their final two at-bats to make it three straight against the Dodgers.

"I think it gives us a huge boost knowing who we're doing it against," Thompson said. "They didn't get that record by a fluke. That team is really, really good. I think it shows how far this team has come this year."

The Phillies are moving in the right direction. At least their record is. They were 29 games under .500 before the All-Star break. Wednesday night's win left them at 32-33 after the break and that means something to a rebuilding team that has put a premium on improvement.

"To win these three games is huge for our confidence," Altherr said. "We know we're a good team. We have a lot of talent on this team. Wins like these help us believe in ourselves even more and help us to believe we can do this in the years to come. We're definitely excited about the future."

The Phillies' three wins in this series have come with Kershaw, Yu Darvish and All-Star lefty Alex Wood on the mound for the Dodgers. Those are three pretty good pitchers. The Phils will face righty Kenta Maeda in the series finale Thursday afternoon. A sweep would be a nice accomplishment. It would ensure that the Dodgers would not pop champagne corks in Philadelphia. And it would also give the Phillies a .500 record after the All-Star break, a little sign of progress as the team's fifth straight losing season winds down.