But the Kyle Kendrick who squared off against the slugger formerly known as Mike Stanton in the sixth inning of Monday night's game was not the rookie carving his way through big-league lineups with a sinker or the comeback kid proving his worth on the roster.
And it was evident in the reaction of the 41,505 people, who froze from breaking out into a midgame wave to watch the 28-year-old pitcher go to work against the 22-year-old slugger. After falling behind, Kendrick threw back-to-back sinkers before dropping a changeup Stanton had no chance to hit.
"He chases, he'll swing at stuff down," Kendrick said of Stanton, who was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. "You've got to keep it out of the middle of the plate to him. He went after it."
Kendrick had lost his no-hit bid in the sixth inning, but he also earned his career-high eighth strikeout by getting Stanton chasing the changeup and stranding the bases loaded. Kendrick continued his second-half brilliance, holding the Marlins to two hits in seven innings and leading the Phillies to their fifth straight victory, 3-1.
Domonic Brown's second home run of the season, a two-run shot that ended dueling shutouts in the fifth, was all the offense the Phils would need.
"It was a team effort," Brown said. "KK pitched a heck of a game."
Kendrick is 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA in his last six starts. He is 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA since taking Joe Blanton's spot in the rotation at the beginning of August.
After sporting a 5.35 ERA in 17 games in the first 3 months of the season, Kendrick has a 2.09 ERA since the end of June.
The question is no longer if Kendrick has won a chance to open the 2013 season in the starting rotation. It's whether his improbable run of pitching like a top-of-the-rotation starter can continue as the Phils continue their own improbable run toward a postseason spot.
Kendrick's latest gem came in a game that saw the Phillies (70-71) move within a game of the .500 mark for the first time since the first week of June. After Antonio Bastardo struck out Greg Dobbs to end the game, the Phils had moved within 5 1/2 games of St. Louis for the National League's second wild card. The Cardinals' game at San Diego ended too late for this edition.
Since they were in last place on Aug. 11, the Phils have gone 19-9.
"We're playing well right now," Kendrick said. "We definitely know where we're at, we've got to win every night. Hopefully some teams beat some teams for us. We're in the hunt, so that's fun."
Five months into the season, the Phils look like they're having fun, too. Instead of looking like a team worn down by an underachieving, deflating summer, they have brought a renewed energy to the ballpark.
If Brown's home run was the offensive spark that sent a jolt through Citizens Bank Park, Michael Martinez, who came into the homestand hitting .115, was the spark plug who kept the mojo going. Martinez, making his fifth straight start at third base, followed Brown's blast one out later by legging out a double. He advanced to third on a groundout and then broke for home when a wild pitch was just out of the reach of catcher Rob Brantly.
"He did a good job hustling around the bases to score," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Thanks to Brown and Martinez, when Kendrick took the mound in the sixth, he had a 3-0 lead. He also had a no-hitter going.
Despite falling behind 0-2, Brantly broke up the no-no bid with a single to center to lead off the sixth. Kendrick, who looked like he wanted a pitch for a strike earlier in the at-bat, knew what was going on.
"I was ahead, and then the 2-2 changeup was pretty close," Kendrick said. "[Catcher Erik] Kratz said it was a strike, but I don't know. It was up a little bit."
The next hitter reached, too, on a walk, and two outs later, Kendrick walked Jose Reyes to load the bases. But then Stanton stepped in and Kendrick reconnected with the stuff he used to dominate the Marlins in the first five innings.
With a chance to put Stanton away, Kendrick went with the pitch that he used for seven of his eight strikeouts on Monday night: his changeup.
"That's why I got sent down in '09 was to develop that pitch," Kendrick said. "I'm happy with it, just got to keep getting better. It's come a long way."
Just like the 2012 Phillies, actually.
Contact Ryan Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.