The Los Angeles Dodgers take a red-hot offense into a three-game road series against the Philadelphia Phillies, but their leaky bullpen has been an issue.
The Phillies will be up for the challenge, taking a five-game winning streak into the series after a wild 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigerson Thursday.
While half a dozen runs in the first four innings of a game usually lead to a successful outcome, the Dodgers did just that in all three games of their just-completed road series against the Cincinnati Reds, but they won just once.
In Tuesday's series opener, the Dodgers had an 8-3 lead in the fourth inning before falling 9-8 when the bullpen gave up five runs. On Wednesday, Los Angeles had a 6-2 lead in the third inning before Cincinnati rallied for the victory.
In the series finale Thursday, the Dodgers made the formula work, scoring their six runs by the fourth inning and finishing with a 6-0 victory behind Clayton Kershaw's seven dominating innings, including nine strikeouts. The outing helped the bullpen to reset itself.
David Peralta had his first four-hit game with the Dodgers and added two RBIs. He is 13-for-27 (.481) over his last nine games.
"I know we didn't start (the series) the way we wanted, but the important thing is to turn the page," Peralta said on the SportsNet LA broadcast. "... It's not just me, it's been everyone with a good approach. It's been a great job by the hitting coaches to give us the best report they can to be ready at the plate."
The Dodgers will send rookie right-hander Michael Grove (0-2, 8.14 ERA) to the mound Friday. Grove returned to the rotation Saturday against the New York Yankees, after not pitching since April because of a groin strain. He gave up four runs over five innings while taking the loss.
Grove faced the Phillies in his major league debut May 15 of last season and surrendered four runs on four hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
The Phillies will send left-hander Ranger Suarez (1-2, 5.47) to the mound Friday. Phillies starters have set a high standard of late, with Aaron Nola taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning Monday against the Detroit Tigers and Zack Wheeler taking one into the eighth on Thursday.
The Tigers tied Thursday's game 1-1 in the eighth and went up 2-1 in the ninth, before the Phillies scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to win it. Brandon Marsh tied it 2-2 on a sacrifice fly and Kody Clemens ended it with an RBI single.
Phillies pitching gave up just five runs in the three-game sweep and held the Tigers scoreless for an 18-inning stretch at one point.
"We've talked about it," Wheeler said about the starters, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We need to get going. We're sort of what carries this team. ... I feel like that's what we've done a lot this season, is let guys score on us early, so it kind of puts a damper on the game. So getting out there early, putting up zeroes, that always helps us."
Now comes a visit from the Dodgers, just over a month after the Phillies were outscored 36-11 in a three-game sweep at Los Angeles.
Suarez is 3-2 with a 4.08 ERA in six appearances (three starts) against the Dodgers.
--Field Level Media