Phillies (27-30) vs. Miami Marlins (16-41)

When the Phillies opened the series with Milwaukee, they stared down a six-game stretch against the two worst teams in the league, one on a six-game skid, the other losers of nine straight.

They dropped two games to the second-worst team. They need at least two wins against the worst.

One popular pontification to define this season is noting the Phillies record against the Marlins and Mets (11-5) and that against everybody else (16-25). So yeah, that’s pretty much how these next three games need to go.

The Phillies have taken two, three-game series and split a four-game set. After loss No. 8 for Cole Hamels on May 20, Philadelphia took the next two games by a composite 10-3 margin.

Ace Kendrick

After two shaky starts, Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 3.27 ERA) got back on track last Saturday in Boston, holding one of the hottest lineups in baseball to two earned on seven baserunners through six innings.

Keeping men off has been struggle for Kendrick this season. He’s pitched over trouble. But he’s allowed nine or more baserunners in six of 11 starts this year, and has surrendered four or more runs in three of those.

That can’t be a problem tonight. Kendrick’s 8-0 with a 2.24 ERA in his last 10 starts against Miami. His nine straight wins over the Marlins are tied for the second-longest active streak against a single foe. Roy Halladay’s won 10 straight over Baltimore, as has Andy Pettitte vs. Kansas City.

The Other Guy

Tom Koehler (0-3, 3.22) will looking for his first major league win tonight. He’s yet to allow four runs in a start in five on his career, but has pulled only five runs of support. Combined.

Tonight will be Koehler’s debut as a starter against the Phillies, but he was tagged for three runs in two innings out of the ‘pen on May 2.

Dom Brown

Is good. He’s up to .400 with nine Dom Bombs and 20 RBI in his last 13 games.

He hit third for the first time in his career on Saturday, with Jimmy Rollins out of the lineup. He returned to the five-hole Sunday. That’s good work by Charlie Manuel, getting Brown high-in-the-order at-bats without a full-on anointment – and possible undue pressure.

Winning Ways

The Marlins rank in the bottom two in every major offensive category, and are on average shut out every sixth game. But they enter fresh off a series sweep of the Mets, outscoring New York 24-8 in three games at Marlins Park, only their second winning streak this season.

That was mostly behind Marcell Ozuna and Chris Coghlan, who went a combined 14 for 25 with nine RBI on the series. Ozuna, whose 16-game hit streak snapped only yesterday, is hitting .429 with five extra-base hits in 28 at-bats against the Phillies this year.

Welcome Back, Mike (So Long, Cesar?)

Michael Young is expected back from the bereavement list today, necessitating a roster move.

Michael Martinez, 30, filled in for Chase Utley on May 23. He’s a career .187 hitter.

But 23-year-old Cesar Hernandez needs at-bats, something he won’t get here, so why keep him?

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