MLB: Zack Wheeler, Phillies aim to get back on track vs. D-backs

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The Philadelphia Phillies will look to avoid matching their season-worst, three-game losing streak on Saturday when they continue their three-game series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Phillies, who lost three games in a row from May 26-28, have dropped six of their past nine games to see their once double-digit lead over the second-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East get trimmed to six games.

Philadelphia followed up a 5-2 setback to the visiting San Diego Padres on Wednesday with a 5-4 loss to Arizona in the series opener on Friday. The Diamondbacks have won three in a row in the City of Brotherly Love dating back to the 2023 National League Championship Series.

“It felt good coming here. I know there is a lot of anxiety, pressure, tense moments the last two times we were here,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said, referring to the victories that sent his team to the World Series. “Walking back into this clubhouse, I had a couple of seconds where I thought, ‘We did something special here.’

“The baseball world saw the Arizona Diamondbacks play really good baseball in a really good series and won the National League here. We deserved to because we were a good team.”

The Diamondbacks reminded the Phillies of that fact on Friday, claiming their eighth win in 11 outings after Gabriel Moreno belted a two-run homer and Joc Pederson and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also went deep. While Moreno (sprained left thumb) and Gurriel (left elbow soreness) left the contest due to injuries, Pederson got under the skin of the some of the Phillies’ faithful with his blast in the third inning.

“After they talked trash to me in my first at-bat, that was part of it,” Pederson said. “I told some guys in the dugout that I was going to hit a home run and talk trash back to them.”

The long ball was an issue for Philadelphia’s Saturday starter, Zack Wheeler (8-4, 2.84 ERA), in his latest outing. The right-hander surrendered a career-high four homers and eight runs overall in 4 1/3 innings as his eight-game winning streak ended in an 8-3 drubbing by the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

“I (physically) felt great, actually,” Wheeler said, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That’s what’s frustrating about it. I felt great, held my velo, it’s just one of those days. It stinks. Just got to give people credit sometimes. Just one of those days for me.”

Wheeler, 34, has enjoyed better days in his career against Arizona. He has a 6-3 record with a 2.96 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts vs. the Diamondbacks, and he struck out 17 batters while going 2-0 with a 1.84 in three postseason meetings last year.

Arizona will counter with left-hander Tommy Henry (2-2, 6.23 ERA), who will make his first start since April 29. He was blitzed for five runs on five hits — including two homers — in four innings of relief in a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on June 15.

Henry, 26, is 1-1 with an 8.79 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia.

–Field Level Media

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