Threatening the Dodgers' season-long stranglehold on the best record in the National League, the 72-50 Phillies travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game set with the Pirates. First pitch is 7:05.
Preview: There isn't a number that illustrates the tenacity of the Phillies better than their Major League-best 40-21 road mark. Add in a tidy 18-6 record against the National League Central and Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (11-8, 4.15) will have his work cut out for him tonight. Fueled by Ryan Howard's power surge, the Phils have opened the flood gates lately, feasting on a steady diet of right-handed starting pitching. One wonders if Bucs manager John Russell will be the first to start taking more caution with Howard, who homered twice in yesterday's finale with New York. On the mound, right-handed anchor Joe Blanton (8-6, 3.86) has delivered close to three months of outstanding starting pitching. In sharp contrast to his days in Oakland, he's actually been slightly better on the road this season.
Lineups are posted: Charlie Manuel continues to weave his reservists into the mix, giving Matt Stairs a start in right field. Stairs' last hit came against the Pirates way back on July 11, a ninth-inning homer.
Notes: Despite a great run, the Phillies haven't gained all that much ground on the Braves, who took three-out-of-four from the Dodgers in Los Angeles and are fighting to close their seven-game deficit in the NL East. ... In other news, Brett Myers will reportedly rehab tomorrow in Reading, but there is no official word on that yet, according to David Murphy of the Daily News. ... Finally, the Scottsdale Scorpions will be home to several players participating in the Arizona Fall League, including top prospect Domonic Brown, Scott Mathieson, Mike Cisco, Mike Zagurski, Steve Susdorf, Troy Hanzawa, Tuffy Gosewisch and Michael Schwimer. [Roster]