On a staff with other big-name pitchers, Kyle Kendrick has been the unexpected ace for the Philadelphia Phillies so far.
The surprising Kendrick will try to win his fourth straight start and lead the Phillies to a winning record on their West Coast swing Sunday when they close it out against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Philadelphia (17-21) snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-3 on its seven-game trip behind Cliff Lee's seven shutout innings in a 3-1 victory Saturday.
The Diamondbacks (21-16), who had their season-high five-game winning streak stopped, finished with nine hits but stranded nine runners and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
"We had a chance to win but things didn't go our way,' said manager Kirk Gibson, whose team fell one game back of San Francisco in the NL West. "It was a struggle.'
Now Gibson's club faces another tough test against Kendrick (4-1, 2.45 ERA), who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over his last six starts while Lee finds some consistency and Roy Halladay recovers from shoulder surgery.
Since giving up five in 5 2-3 innings while losing his first start, the right-hander hasn't allowed more than two runs in any outing - going 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA over that span.
"Kyle's pitched great," second baseman Chase Utley told the team's official website. "It seems like every game, he definitely gives us a chance to win."
Although he's 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA on the road and had a run of 25 scoreless innings there end in his last start, Kendrick hasn't had that kind of success against the Diamondbacks.
He's 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in three career starts in Arizona, and hasn't beaten the Diamondbacks in six lifetime outings.
Arizona, though, has scored just nine runs while going 1 for 26 with runners in scoring position over its last four contests.
Paul Goldschmidt is hitless in his last five in those situations and 3 for 20 overall in his last six home games.
Gerardo Parra was a bright spot Saturday with three hits and is 8 for 18 over his last five games.
Scheduled starter Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 6.75) looks for his first win with the Diamondbacks in his first career start against the Phillies.
The right-hander has struggled since getting hit in the head with a liner that caused a skull fracture, an epidural hemorrhage and a brain contusion that required surgery last September.
McCarthy, who went 8-6 with a career-best 3.24 ERA before having his 2012 season cut short, will try to build off his finest performance of this season. He allowed three runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
McCarthy faces a Philadelphia team that has struggled offensively, totaling nine runs and hitting .225 over its last four games.
Utley, Michael Young and Ryan Howard are a combined 4 for 41 (.098) during that span.
Jimmy Rollins, however, went 2 for 3 with two RBIs on Saturday and is 6 for 16 with a homer and three RBIs in his last four games.
"Obviously, you adjust your swing because you've got to get a good swing first," said Rollins, who broke out of a 3-for-27 slump. "Now that I'm starting to get there, the confidence comes that I can put on the same swing in any situation.'
The Associated Press News Service
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