The Philadelphia Phillies are back on the high side of the roller coaster ride as they attempt to chase down the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
The Phillies will look to gain more ground on Atlanta on Friday when they open a three-game road series against the Miami Marlins (55-79).
Philadelphia (69-64), which is two games behind the Braves, is looking to pick up its seventh consecutive win in what has been a topsy-turvy pattern.
The Phillies were 51-53 before winning their first eight games in August for their longest winning streak of the season.
Just as quickly, Philadelphia went into a steep decline and lost 11 of 15 contests to fall one game below .500.
Now the Phillies have rebounded by winning the final three contests of a four-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks and following with a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals. Philadelphia overcame a six-run deficit to post a 7-6 victory over the Nationals on Thursday afternoon.
Andrew McCutchen drove in four runs for the Phillies, including a three-run double in the sixth inning to get the comeback started.
“I think what it continues to show is we always have a chance to come back, and that’s important to teams to have that feeling,” Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “Yeah, you can get down, but get a couple guys on, see what happens, Cutch comes up with the big double that scores three and all the sudden we’re back in the game.”
The big outing represented a thrill for McCutchen, who batted just .155 in August.
He has two hits in each of the past two games — the first time he has done that since June 18-19.
“It feels good to play like I know I can play,” said McCutchen, the 2013 National League MVP for the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It only took until September. But the past couple games, I’ve been feeling good.”
Philadelphia has scored seven or more runs in seven consecutive games for the first time since June 1933. According to mlb.com, the club record of eight was set in September 1903.
Marlins left-hander Jesus Luzardo (5-7, 7.19 ERA) draws the task of slowing the Phillies’ attack.
Luzardo was acquired from Oakland in late July in the deal in which Starling Marte was sent to the Athletics. He is 3-3 with a 7.62 ERA in six starts for Miami.
The 23-year-old is coming off a stellar performance in which he struck out eight and allowed just one hit and one walk in six scoreless innings while beating the Cincinnati Reds.
Luzardo has never faced the Phillies.
Miami manager Don Mattingly will hope his club plays better defense behind Luzardo than it did in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Mets.
The Marlins made four errors — two fielding, two throwing — while losing for the 11th time in the past 15 games.
“We’re a club that we talk about our pitching a lot, and that means we’ve got to play good defense behind them and limit the chances the other team gets, because we’re going to be scratching for runs in general,” Mattingly told reporters. “There are times where we’re going to score, but when you force guys into more pitches, it just gives the other team more chances.”
Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Gibson (10-5, 2.94) will be on the mound, looking for his third straight win. He allowed just one run and nine hits in 14 innings over his past two turns.
Gibson is 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in six appearances (five starts) for the Phillies since being acquired from Texas at the trade deadline. Gibson, 33, was an All-Star for the Rangers.
Gibson has never faced Miami. Philadelphia leads the season series, 7-6.
–Field Level Media