Kendrick leads Phils to sixth straight
Rookie tosses seven solid frames; Phillies stay two back
MIAMI -- There was no drama this time, no frantic rally, no euphoric ending.
Just another win for Philadelphia, this one a 9-2 trampling of Florida on Friday that pushed the win streak for baseball's hottest team to a season-long six games.
The Phillies remained two games behind the National League East-leading Mets, who beat the Braves, 7-1, in Atlanta.
"One at a time," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We'll celebrate this one for about half an hour, then we'll go back to the hotel and concentrate on [Saturday's] game."
After a series with the Mets in which each run felt like it carried the weight of 10, there wasn't much suspense to this one. The Phillies scored in each of their first three at-bats and never trailed, quickly erasing any fear of a letdown after their emotional victory Thursday.
"The sweep [of the Mets] was over," said Jimmy Rollins, who went 3-for-4. "We just needed to come out and win another game."
Already ahead by a run, the Phillies batted around in a four-run second inning in which Florida starter Sergio Mitre tied a Major League record by hitting three batters.
One of those victims was Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick, who squared to bunt and took a fastball to his right shoulder. Two batters later, Mitre hit Chase Utley to force in a run, and Pat Burrell added a sac fly later in the inning to make it 5-0.
"The ball was just taking off," Mitre said. "[Aaron] Rowand was nicked. Utley was hit with a breaking ball. And you never want to hit the pitcher, especially when he's bunting. There was no intent behind that."
Kendrick took a moment to compose himself after he got plunked, and he rubbed the developing charley horse on his throwing shoulder while he was on base.
"It was just like somebody punched me right there," he said. "[I] just tried to keep it loose."
But if Kendrick had any ill effects from the target practice, he certainly didn't show it. The rookie right-hander allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings to win his third consecutive start.
"He's a pitcher," Manuel said. "He doesn't strike lot of guys out, but he knows how to pitch, he's got remarkable feel for pitching and he doesn't give in."
It was another step forward in what has been a remarkable maturation process for Kendrick, who began the season at Double-A Reading.
"I'm not going to say thought I'd get called up and be 8-3 at this point," he said. "It's nice. I'm here, so I've got to keep doing what doing."
On Friday, that meant cradling the sizable cushion his offense gave him. And Kendrick responded in kind, getting double plays to end each of the first three innings before Miguel Cabrera got Florida on the board with an RBI double in the fourth. Kendrick then retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced.
"I saw him in Rookie ball when he first signed," Manuel said, "and he's gotten bigger. When he gets about 15 more pounds on him, he's going to have better velocity, too.
"His ball always moves. He either sinks his ball or he cuts it or he throws a four-seamer that kinds of takes off. And he, every now and then, will reach up and get to 91, 92 [mph]."
Kane Davis, recalled from Triple-A Ottawa earlier in the day, closed the game with two scoreless innings. It was Davis' first Major League appearance since Sept. 30, 2005.
While lacking the fervor of Thursday's highlight reel walk-off win over the Mets, Friday's quiet finish capped off exactly the kind of workmanlike victory the Phillies will need to replicate as they march methodically toward the playoffs.
"Every game is huge down the stretch -- every pitch, every at-bat," Kendrick said. "We're in the hunt. It's a lot of fun. If you don't like it, you got something wrong."
Tom Keller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.