Lefty alert: Jon Lieber takes the mound against left-hander Mike O’Connor and the Nationals tonight as the Phils try to keep pace with the surging Dodgers. Besieged slugger Pat Burrell returns to left field.
At post time, the Dodgers were leading the Rockies 18-11 in a Rocky Mountain shootout. The Phillies trail the suddenly surging Dodgers by a game in the National League Wild Card race. It may be time to pay closer attention to the Padres, who begin a four-game series with the Diamondbacks tonight in Arizona. If the Dodgers hold on in their game, and the Padres lose, they will be tied for the division lead in the NL West.
That means nothing unless the Phils win some games, and it wouldn’t hurt Phans if they made it easy for a change. This series was supposed to be a walk in the park. Instead, it's been a mine field.
Following yesterday’s thrilling, emotional, yet acidic win, the Phils will lean on Jon Lieber (9-10, 4.92 ERA), who’s looking for his fourth win in five starts, and also looking to reach .500 for the first time this season. The Nationals counter with left-hander Mike O'Connor (3-8, 5.04) who beat the Phils on June 8. Since then, it’s been downhill. He’s 0-5 with a 7.07 ERA in his last 11 games.
Charlie Manuel will stack the lineup with right-handers Jeff Conine and Pat Burrell behind Ryan Howard. Conine took a tough 0-for-7 collar last night, and Burrell struck out his only at bat.
After catching 14 innings of a five-hour game, Chris Coste is back behind the plate to receive for Lieber. Coster had a clutch night, going 3-for-6 with a walk.