With Kyle Kendrick pitching well, the Philadelphia Phillies hope to start turning things around by continuing their recent success against an NL East rival.
Then again, the starting staff hasn't been Philadelphia's problem lately.
The Phillies try to avoid their second four-game losing streak in two weeks and claim their seventh win in eight games against the New York Mets on Friday night at Citi Field.
Philadelphia has lost eight of 11 and dropped the final three of a four-game set against Pittsburgh this week, falling 6-4 on Thursday after blowing a late two-run lead.
The Phillies (9-14), who lost four straight April 15-18, dropped a series at home to the Pirates for the first time since 2003.
"We're just not playing good baseball right now," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're in a bad term, or whatever you want to call it. We're trying and we have a lot of life, but we're not getting it done."
Manuel's starting pitchers have mostly performed well, giving up no more than two runs in 11 of the past 15 games. This past turn the rotation saw Philadelphia's starters post a 2.78 ERA, including six runs in 21 innings over the past three games.
Those losses saw the bullpen allow seven runs, 10 hits and four walks in six innings. The Phillies offense also continues to provide limited help, producing 2.7 runs per game over the last 13.
Philadelphia has totaled three runs in Kendrick's last two starts, and he didn't receive a decision in either one. Kendrick (1-1, 3.28 ERA) gave up two runs over 13 innings in those games after beating the Mets on April 10 for his lone win, yielding two runs over six innings in a 7-3 victory.
Kendrick is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts against them since the start of 2011, and his team also has done quite well against New York lately. The Phillies won the final four meetings last year and took two of three in Philadelphia in the teams' first series this season, posting a 2.57 ERA during that seven-game span.
The Mets (10-10) have alternated wins and losses through six contests of a nine-game homestand and now look to rebound from a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.
While they rank near the top of the majors with 110 runs, the Mets have failed to score more than two in three of the past four and are hitting .207 in their last seven.
The Mets will turn to Dillon Gee (1-3, 5.95) after the right-hander snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday. Gee had been tagged for 12 runs and 17 hits over 7 2-3 innings in his previous two outings, but displayed an effective changeup while allowing three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win over Washington.
"I think he needed it bad. I think it's a great confidence builder for him," manager Terry Collins said.
Gee is 2-2 with a 7.03 ERA in six career starts against the Phillies, and he allowed seven runs and 10 hits over three innings in an 8-3 loss at Philadelphia on April 9.
Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry homered off Gee in that victory. Howard, 9 for 23 in his last six games, has three hits - all homers - in nine career at_bats against him. Young (4 for 5) and Jimmy Rollins (7 for 11) also have had success against Gee.
David Wright has dominated Kendrick over the past four-plus seasons, going 9 for 18 with two homers and two doubles.
The Associated Press News Service
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