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07/07/09 11:02 PM ET

Lopez aims to build on first start's success

Philadelphia (43-38) vs. Cincinnati (41-41), 7:05 p.m. ET

PHILADELPHIA -- It took a while, but Rodrigo Lopez's return to the Majors after a two-year hiatus could not have gone better.

It went well enough to beat the Mets, as the 33-year-old Phillies right-hander allowed just two runs in 6 1/3 innings on Friday and walked off to a standing ovation.

And it went well enough to earn himself at least another start -- against the Reds on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park -- and perhaps a much longer look in the Phils' rotation.

Manager Charlie Manuel liked what he saw.

"He kind of showed us who he is and what he's all about," Manuel said Monday. "Lopez has composure and I think he's got experience and I think he's got the knowledge on how he thinks he should pitch. I think he knows himself."

Lopez went 15-9 with a 3.57 ERA in 2002, his first full season, finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He struggled in '03 after being named the Orioles' Opening Day starter, but went 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA in '04 and reached the 15-win plateau again in '05.

But after an 18-loss season, he was shipped to the Rockies in '07. That summer, Lopez hurt his arm and needed Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, and he has been on the long road back since. He even considered quitting and returning to Mexico before Triple-A pitching coach Rod Nichols talked him out of it.

So Lopez's career win No. 66, 708 days after No. 65, was laden with plenty of emotion.

"Finally, I came back," Lopez said Friday, "and I'm pretty proud of myself."

Unless the Phils acquire a pitcher from outside the organization, the final starting slot is Lopez's to lose. Manuel sees a pitcher who is certainly serviceable and who resembles the Lopez of 2002-05.

"He's kind of close to where he was at when he was really successful," Manuel said. "His velocity is a little bit down from where it was, but not much. He's still got a good little sinker, and he's got command.

"Without a doubt, I think he can give you five or six innings in the big leagues. I think he definitely can do that."

Pitching matchup
PHI: RHP Rodrigo Lopez (1-0, 2.84 ERA)
Lopez made his first appearance in the Majors since 2007 on Friday against the Mets and he came through in a major way. He allowed just six hits, two runs and one walk in 6 1/3 innings. He also struck out four. It was a relief for the Phillies, who are hoping they can find more consistency in their rotation with the trade market very thin at the moment.

CIN: RHP Homer Bailey (1-0, 5.94 ERA)
Bailey came up with arguably the best start of his career last Friday against the Cardinals. He gave up two runs and three hits over 7 1/3 innings, leaving with a 3-0 lead. Yet the bullpen couldn't hold the game for Bailey in an eventual 7-4 Reds loss. That shouldn't take away from Bailey's performance, however. He had command of his pitches and retired 12 consecutive hitters at one point. Bailey is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies.

Monday's 22-1 victory over the Reds was the Phillies' largest win in the modern era (post-1900) and third largest all-time, behind a 29-4 win over Louisville in 1894 and a 24-0 win over Indianapolis in 1887. ... Monday was the fourth time in Major League history that a team scored 10-plus runs the first inning, and then scored in each of the next three (or more) innings. ... The Phillies are 28-1 when scoring 20 or more runs in a game. They lost to the Cubs, 26-23, on Aug. 5, 1922. ... The season's halfway point was Tuesday. The defending champs were also 43-38 at the 81-game mark in 2008.

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Up next
• Thursday: Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 7-6, 5.72) vs. Reds (Micah Owings, 6-8, 4.48), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Phillies (Joe Blanton, 5-4, 4.69) vs. Pirates (Zach Duke, 8-7, 3.28), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 5-5, 4.70) vs. Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf, 7-7, 4.63), 7:05 p.m. ET

David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.