Phillies at Cardinals
The Philadelphia Phillies have won six of their last seven contests to move eight games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. The Phillies (24-16) bid to continue their good fortune on Thursday when they open a four-game series at the St. Louis Cardinals (23-17), who have won 13 of the last 18 meetings between the teams in the Gateway City.
Philadelphia's Cesar Hernandez homered and tripled in Wednesday's 4-1 victory over Baltimore, marking the third time he's gone deep in his last 11 games after belting two homers in his first 29. The 27-year-old Venezuelan also scored twice to raise his runs total to seven in his last seven contests entering Thursday's tilt versus Luke Weaver, against whom he is 3-for-3 with a homer and a double. St. Louis' Tommy Pham struggled during the team's three-game losing skid before homering among his two hits in Wednesday's 7-5 win over Minnesota. The blast was the 30-year-old's third of the six-game road trip, during which he had seven hits with five runs scored in the three wins while going 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the three losses.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, NBCS Philadelphia, FS Midwest (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Vince Velasquez (3-4, 5.05 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Luke Weaver (3-2, 4.91)
Velasquez dropped a bombshell earlier this week by announcing that he underwent surgery which saw doctors remove a rib stemming from thoracic outlet syndrome. The 25-year-old overcame a sluggish start last Thursday in which he surrendered two homers for the third time in four outings before retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced and finishing with 12 strikeouts in a 6-3 triumph over San Francisco. Marcell Ozuna has homered among his three hits in 12 at-bats versus Velasquez, who was blasted for five runs on seven hits - including two homers - in his lone appearance against St. Louis in August 2016.
Weaver likely needs a big performance on Thursday if he wishes to remain in the starting rotation with the expected return of Alex Reyes, who is working his way pack from Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old answered a trio of four-run performances on Friday by scattering four hits over five scoreless frames in a 9-5 victory at San Diego. Maikel Franco is 2-for-3 versus Weaver, who lost his lone career appearance against Philadelphia in 2016 after surrendering three runs on nine hits in five innings.
1. St. Louis 1B Matt Carpenter collected three hits - including two doubles - on Wednesday after going 0-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his previous six outings.
2. Philadelphia CF Odubel Herrera has reached base in a career-best 42 games to move within 14 of tying Mike Schmidt's franchise record.
3. Cardinals SS Paul DeJong is 10-for-30 with one homer, five RBIs and three runs scored in his last eight games.