Tonight's lineup: Another night off for ice-cold Cameron Rupp

Tonight's lineup: Another night off for ice-cold Cameron Rupp

Can Tommy Joseph win the matchup with Chris Sale again tonight?

Joseph, who went 2 for 2 with a homer, double and three RBIs last season against Sale, bats cleanup tonight as the Phillies wrap up their home-and-home series with the Red Sox.

The Phillies' lineup tonight is the same as it was last night, save for Andrew Knapp starting behind the plate in place of the ice-cold Cameron Rupp.

The Phils' production from their two catchers has nosedived. Rupp has hit .105 over his last 57 at-bats with one extra-base hit and 22 strikeouts. Knapp is 2 for 16 over his last four starts.

The Phillies obviously have their work cut out tonight against a pitcher on pace for 314 strikeouts, a total nobody's reached since teammates Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling both did it in 2002 (see game notes).

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Howie Kendrick, 2B
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Maikel Franco, 3B
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Nick Pivetta, P

Phillies-Cardinals 5 things: Aaron Nola to duel scuffling Adam Wainwright in series finale

Phillies-Cardinals 5 things: Aaron Nola to duel scuffling Adam Wainwright in series finale

Phillies (21-39) at Cardinals (28-32)
2:15 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies lost their fourth straight game on Saturday. They were on the wrong end of a four-hit shutout thrown by Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez while Nick Pivetta struggled through five innings. In search of a victory, the Phils turn to Aaron Nola, who will face veteran righty Adam Wainwright on Sunday.

Here are five things to know for the series finale:

1. Offensive futility
The Phillies' recent offensive ineptitude bled into Saturday. Martinez dominated them from the first inning, barely needing more than a handful of pitches to dispatch with them in the opening frame. The Phils strung together just four hits -- two by Tommy Joseph -- and had just one walk against a pitcher who struggles at times with control.

The offense isn't fully to blame for Saturday's loss as Martinez was simply too good. He had nasty stuff, lived in the zone or close enough to it and dialed back for hard stuff even at the end of the game. Working counts is always a goal, but it's easier said than done when a pitcher is putting you behind 0-2 or 1-2 pretty consistently.

Still, the Phillies have just four runs in their last four games and seven in their last five. They were shutout for the fourth time this season, which means they're on pace to end up around last year's 11 shutouts. The Phillies' pitching staff had 12 shutouts last season but has none so far in 2017.

After Sunday and Monday's outbursts (20 runs over two games), it appeared the offense was out of its funk. Adding a further wrinkle to the offensive woes is a potential extended absence for Cesar Hernandez, who has an oblique/abdominal injury. Without him, the Phillies lose speed and a solid presence at the top of the lineup, although the injury could open up an opportunity to see someone new for an extended tryout.

If the Phillies are going to get the bats going soon, Sunday could very well be the day. Wainwright hasn't lived up to his reputation this year.

2. Not the same Wainwright
For the first eight seasons of Wainwright's career, he earned himself a reputation as an ace, a workhorse who could absorb innings and put together great results, finishing top three in Cy Young voting on four separate occasions.

But this year, Wainwright isn't the same pitcher. He comes into Sunday with a 4.82 ERA in 65 1/3 innings over 12 starts. His walk rate is a career worst and so are his hits per nine innings (10.5).

You can essentially divide his career into two periods: Pre- and post-Achilles injury. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2015, limiting him to just seven games that season. In the two seasons since, he has a 4.67 ERA in 264 innings compared to a 2.99 ERA over 1,539 2/3 innings prior to 2015. In 2016, he gave up the most hits and earned runs in all of baseball.

Wainwright used to live in the mid 90s with his fastball, but now he works in the low 90s with his four-seam fastball and sinker. He mixes in an 86 mph cutter. His bread and butter is still his knock-out curveball. The curve, which is still an above-average pitch, isn't quite as dominant as in years past. All his hard stuff is getting hit well, so he's using his curveball more than ever.

Don't sleep on Wainwright at the dish. He's 6 for 23 this year with two home runs and has 10 home runs in his career, including one against the Phillies last season. His .202/.228/.312 batting line wouldn't cut it for a position player but is quite good for a pitcher.

In 14 games (12 starts) vs. Phillies, he's 6-2 with a 2.85 ERA. 1.159 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 82 innings. He had two quality starts against the Phils in 2016.

3. Nola back to form?
The Phillies finally saw exactly what they wanted from Nola in his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. Facing the Braves on Tuesday, Nola allowed just one run on five hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out six and needed just 97 pitches to do the job.

It was Nola's second start of 7-plus innings and just one run since returning from DL, yet he was sharper this time with one fewer walk and no HBPs. He also didn't allow a home run for the first time in a few starts. It was easily his best start in at least 11 months.

Through seven starts, Nola has a 4.28 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 40 innings. While his Ks per nine innings are down and his walks are slightly up, his ERA is better by half a run. His curveball has been basically just as good as previous seasons with opposing hitters putting up a meager .232/.232/.286 line against it.

Even better news for Nola: The Cardinals' offense has been worse than Braves' offense. The 24-year-old righty dominated the Cards last season, giving up just two hits over seven innings while striking out seven in his only appearance against them.

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Joseph has a six-game hitting streak going after his two-hit day on Saturday. The streak has helped raise his batting average from .238 to .255, nine points shy of his high-water mark on the season.

Cardinals: Third baseman Jedd Gyorko has a .312 batting average and 21 extra-base hits this season. He's 3 for 7 this series with a double and four RBI.

5. This and that
• Monday is the 2017 MLB draft. The Phillies have the eighth overall pick, which carries a bonus pool of $4,780,400.

• Freddy Galvis is 5 for 12 with a home run and two doubles vs. Wainwright. Daniel Nava is 3 for 7 with a homer and Odubel Herrera is 3 for 6 with a homer as well.

• If the Phillies lose on Sunday, they will have been swept for the sixth time this year. They suffered their sixth sweep on Aug 29-31 last year and were swept eight times in all of 2016.

Shutdown inning eludes Jeremy Hellickson as Phillies lose 3rd in a row

Shutdown inning eludes Jeremy Hellickson as Phillies lose 3rd in a row


ST. LOUIS — Throughout the red-pinstriped horror show that was the month of May, struggling pitchers with plump ERAs lined up to get well against the Phillies.

On Friday night, an entire team got well against baseball's worst team.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Phillies, 3-2, in the first game of a weekend series at Busch Stadium (see Instant Replay). Earlier in the day, the Cardinals axed two members of their coaching staff and veteran infielder Jhonny Peralta after an 0-7 road trip.

Cardinals starting pitchers had zero quality starts and an ERA over 7.00 in racking up those seven losses in Chicago and Cincinnati. The Cardinals' offense was also pretty bad on the trip, averaging just 2.9 runs per game and hitting .212.

But against the Phils, the Cardinals got a quality start from right-hander Michael Wacha and 11 hits from the bat rack.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have slowly put together another little losing streak. It stands at three straight with rookie Nick Pivetta heading to the mound Saturday afternoon to face electric-armed Carlos Martinez (see game notes).

"First off, we've scored seven runs in the last four ballgames," manager Pete Mackanin said. "You're not going to win a lot of games when you do that."

You're also not going to win a lot of ballgames when your most veteran starter can't hold a lead for more than 11 pitches.

The Phillies rallied for a pair of two-out runs in the top of the third inning on hits by Howie Kendrick (double), Tommy Joseph (RBI single) and Aaron Altherr (RBI triple).

Hellickson came out for the bottom of the third and allowed four straight hard-hit balls, three hits and a sacrifice fly as the Cardinals quickly tied the game.

Two innings later, Hellickson hung a changeup and Aledmys Diaz hit it over the wall in left-center to give the Cardinals the lead for good.

"He was up in the zone, made some bad pitches with his changeup, gave up a lot of hits, but bared down when he had to and held them to three runs," Mackanin said of Hellickson.

Not being able to get a shutdown inning in the bottom of the third really hurt.

"Yeah," Mackanin said. "We're trying to win games. Third inning, it's early but you always want a shutdown inning. I guess you could say he pitched well enough to win, but he also pitched well enough to lose. We just couldn't score."

Hellickson wasn't happy with his work in that third inning.

"I think shutdown innings are huge, especially the way Wacha was throwing the ball and the bullpen they have," he said. "The first four batters, I don't think I executed a pitch I wanted. I just didn't execute that inning. Other than that, I felt like everything was pretty good. Fastball was down. Off-speed was good. They just took advantage of my mistakes."

Hellickson is 5-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts. The Phillies had hoped to cash him in for a high draft pick last fall, but he accepted their qualifying offer of $17.2 million for this season. He had a terrific month of April, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts, but has struggled since. He has given up 12 homers in his last eight starts and 19 runs in his last four.

"I just have to keep the ball in the yard," Hellickson said. "I have to keep it a tie ballgame the way Wacha is throwing and the bullpen they have. Fifth inning, tie ballgame, I have to keep it there. I felt like I threw the ball well, just not good enough."

The big question going forward for Hellickson will be what happens as the trade deadline approaches. It seems almost certain that the Phillies will trade him and they are prepared to eat a significant portion of his remaining salary to do that. But if he doesn't start pitching better, the Phils aren't going to get much in return.

The Phillies did have chances to add runs in this game. They wasted a leadoff double and could not get a man in from third with less than two outs in the second inning.

In the ninth, they got something cooking against St. Louis closer Seung-hwan Oh when Altherr reached base on a bloop double, his third extra-base hit of the game. He moved up on a groundout but died on third when Andrew Knapp struck out and Freddy Galvis lined out — with leftfielder Tommy Pham laying out to make a terrific catch — to end the game.

"Freddy did a good job not trying to do too much with two strikes and going the other way," Mackanin said. "We just couldn't capitalize."

That's been a familiar refrain this season.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 9-24 on the road.