But don't start staking out positions on Broad Street just yet. In taking two of three from the lowly Rockies, the Phillies did not show anything that they had not shown before. In fact, they are now 14-7 against the four teams who rank behind them in the NL standings. Their problem has been everybody in front of them: They are 25-44 against such teams, including 18-46 against teams who are .500 and above, the second-worst mark in the NL.
Which is why these next two series are really their last chance to prove to the front office that they have what it takes to claw their way back into the postseason race. First up are the Dodgers, who swept the Phillies in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park in early June. After an off day on Thursday, they host the Giants, who entered Sunday leading the Dodgers by a game in the NL West.
"We need to beat every team," said Pence, whose 17th home run of the season snapped a 13 at-bat hitless streak. "No matter who you are, we need to beat you. That's our goal."
The Phillies will no longer face lefthander Chris Capuano on Monday in Los Angeles as the veteran was forced into duty today when scheduled starter Chad Billingsley was scratched with tenderness in his arm.
Capuano, 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA this season, was scheduled to square off against Joe Blanton. Instead, Nathan Eovaldi will start the series opener between the Phillies and the Dodgers.
L.A. has yet to announce a starter for Tuesday's game, which will feature Roy Halladay making his comeback from a lat strain that has sidelined him since late May (the Phillies have officially named Halladay their starter for Tuesday). Defending NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is still slated to start against Cliff Lee on Wednesday.
Halladay made just one rehab appearance, throwing 62 pitches for Clearwater, but felt ready enough to return to the active roster.
"He feels like he's ready, and that's kind of what he wanted to do, and I trust him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I thought he was a good option. Even if he threw lefthanded."
Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, lowering his batting average to .234 and his on-base percentage to .270. At his current pace, he would become just the ninth major league outfielder since 2000 to log at least 400 plate appearances while finishing with an OBP of .275 or lower … Shane Victorino entered Saturday having gone 93 plate appearances without an extra-base hit. He now has three in his last two games. n
Contact David Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @HighCheese. Read his blog at www.philly.com/HighCheese.