Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

734326.jpg

Phillies-Marlins: What you need to know

Phillies (28-25) vs. Miami Marlins (29-23)
4:05 p.m. on CSN
Jonathan Papelbon picked up five huge outs for his first save of more than one inning as a Phillie in Fridays rain-soaked, 6-4 win over the Marlins.

The victory significantly tightened the NL East, where the last-place Phils are just 2 games behind the Nationals and 1 behind the Mets and Marlins for second place.

But the win wasnt without costs (see story). Jose Contreras became the Phillies latest DL victim, suffering an elbow injury after one pitch in a situation Charlie Manuel said looked pretty bad.

Contreras joins 10 other Phillies currently on the disabled list in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Vance Worley, Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, David Herndon, Michael Stutes, Justin De Fratus and Michael Martinez.

Shane Victorino also missed Fridays game after getting a cortisone shot in the area of his right index finger. Victorino could be ready for Saturdays game and said he only feels the injury when batting lefthanded, the side from which he is a .224 hitter this season (compared to .340 from the right side).
Starting pitchers
Cole Hamels (8-1, 2.43 ERA) gives the Phillies a great chance to make it eight wins in their last 10 games. Hell take on Marlins righthander Ricky Nolasco, who is 5-3 with a 4.26 ERA.

Hamels has been brilliant in 2012. If the season ended today hed be a prime Cy Young candidate. Hamels leads the NL in wins, is second in strikeouts and second (to Cliff Lee) in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hamels has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts and hasnt lost since the Phillies home opener against the Marlins. In that game, Hamels allowed Miami four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 5 13 innings.

Since then, Hamels is 8-0 with a 2.22 ERA.

Nolasco has been his typical self in 2012 solid peripheral numbers but middling results. Th 29-year-old righty has five quality starts in 10 tries and has lost three of his last four times out.

For one reason or another, Nolasco has only eclipsed 100 pitches three times this season. For comparisons sake, Hamels has done it eight times.

Current Phillies are hitting just .232 off Nolasco, but they have 11 home runs, including three from Hunter Pence and two from Jimmy Rollins.

Nolasco allowed four runs in six innings to the Phils last September, but absolutely dominated them in his four prior starts to the tune of a 1.53 ERA in 29 13 innings.

Note of interest
The Phillies are 21-7 against the Marlins in their last 28 meetings and a win Saturday would make them 9-1-1 against Miami in the last 11 series.
Key matchup(s)
Nolasco vs. Pence has been a feast-or-famine matchup. Pence only has four hits in 21 at-bats, but three are bombs.

Giving Victorino another day off might make sense. He is 4 for 29 (.138) with one walk and six strikeouts against Nolasco.

Hamels will face nemesis Jose Reyes, who, unluckily for the Phillies, is really starting to get going. Reyes is hitting .372 over a 12-game hitting streak and is 15 for 42 (.357) lifetime off Hamels.

Hamels has confused Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton and the Phils will need that to continue for him to win his ninth game of the season. Ramirez and Stanton have struck out in exactly one-third (24) of their at-bats (72).

Ramirez has never homered off Hamels, but 10 of his 14 hits are doubles.

Sound off
Which Marlins hitter do you fear most with a runner in scoring position?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield hit a two-run, two-out double that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night to reach .500 for the first time since April.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Royals improved to 36-36. They were 6-6 before play on April 20, then went on a nine-game losing streak that night and dropped as low as 10-20, seven games out of first place. They trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by three games.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and extended it when Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit RBI singles off Joakim Soria (4-2) (see full recap).

Dodgers cruise past Rockies for 8th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig homered and left-hander Alex Wood kept his record perfect as the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the NL West rival Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games. They have scored at least six runs in seven consecutive games.

Wood (8-0) allowed one run in six innings. He gave up only three hits and walked two, retiring his last 10 batters.

The Dodgers have homered in 15 consecutive games, tied for fourth-longest streak in club history. The last time they managed it was in 1977. Their record is 24 consecutive games with a home run.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeman (8-4) allowed five runs and a career-high 10 hits and three walks in six innings (see full recap).

Torreyes hits walk-off single to lift Yanks over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Ronald Torreyes hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th inning after midnight, and the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers 2-1 on a rainy Friday night for just their second win in 10 games.

Brett Gardner lined a tying home run with one out in the New York ninth off closer Matt Bush. After Chasen Shreve (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th, Torreyes kept the Yankees atop the AL East.

Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka kept it scoreless into the late innings in the first major league meeting between the Japanese stars (see full recap).

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The clubhouse was beginning to clear and still the star of the game had not yet emerged from the shower.

"He's in there cleaning the guacamole and mayo out of his hair," Cameron Rupp said with a laugh.

Eventually Mark Leiter Jr. made it out of the shower and over to his locker where equipment man Phil Sheridan presented him with three game balls, souvenirs from not only his first big-league start but his first big-league win, as well.

"It's something I'll never forget," the 26-year-old right-hander from Toms River, N.J., said pitching six shutout innings to backbone the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night (see Instant Replay).

"I’ll be honest, I was probably more excited for this than I was for my major-league debut. To go out there and contribute to a win is what I was hoping to do."

Leiter, a 22nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2013, had never made it onto the 40-man roster until the Phils needed a reliever in mid-April and gave him a shot after he'd gotten off to a good start at Triple A. He spent six weeks in the majors and made 12 relief appearances before being sent back to Triple A the first weekend of June.

Leiter worked as a starter during his time back at Triple A. He pitched six shutout innings against Syracuse in his last start and got the call to come back up when Jerad Eickhoff went on the disabled list with a back strain earlier this week.

Leiter's return assignment was not easy: The Diamondbacks are one of the best hitting clubs in the majors and the best on their home turf. They entered the game scoring 6.48 runs per game at home and with an .886 OPS, both major-league bests.

None of that fazed Leiter.

"In my opinion, this is the big leagues and it doesn’t matter who the lineup is," he said. "They all have the ability to hit and hit well. They’re all big-leaguers and they've earned their right to be big-leaguers. I was just trying to pitch to the team you're facing that day."

Leiter trusted his low-90s fastball and commanded it well. He mixed in his secondary stuff and kept the D-backs off-balance with his splitter. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He showed no fear.

"Great performance," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made it look easy. He made a lot of good hitters look bad with his split. For him to come up and do that to a real good hitting team was outstanding."

Leiter's dad, Mark Sr., pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. He made the trip in from New Jersey to watch his son's first big-league start.

"I guess they found him on TV," Leiter said. "That's what they were telling me. I'm sure he wasn't too pleased they found him because he was probably stressed out. But I think it was probably worth him coming out here. He's probably happy."

How could he not be?

Leiter's teammates were definitely happy.

They treated Leiter to a raucous postgame dousing that included as many different condiments as could be found in the clubhouse dining room. One laughing player had a bottle of ketchup in his hands. Another had a squeeze bottle of honey.

And then there was the guacamole and mayo that Rupp mentioned.

"In his first major-league start, to come up here and do that in what is known as a good hitters’ park - that proves Mark is pretty strong between the ears," Tommy Joseph said. "He's been one of those under-the-radar guys that people have doubted, but his mentality and ability to prepare are second to none."

Joseph played a big role in the win, smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Phillies some breathing room. Maikel Franco also had a big home run and Freddy Galvis contributed an important triple that led to a Phillies' run in the first inning.

The Phils still have the worst record in the majors at 24-48, but they've won two in a row, both on the back of good starting pitching performances. Aaron Nola pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

And Leiter delivered on Friday.

"It's good to see those back-to-back," Mackanin said.