Unfazed by homers, Kendrick settles in for Phils' win

Unfazed by homers, Kendrick settles in for Phils' win

Unfazed by homers, Kendrick settles in for Phils' win
PHILADELPHIA -- Yo-yoed between the rotation and the bullpen throughout much of the last two seasons, Kyle Kendrick is making an argument through his pitching that he deserves to stay in a starting role for 2013.

Kendrick won his fourth straight start in Thursday afternoon's 3-2 Phillies win over the Mets, helping his club salvage the final game of the three-game series. The right-hander commanded his fastball down in the zone and kept the opposition off balance with his change up over 7 2/3 solid innings.

However, his performance, as well as seven combined hits from Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry Jr., was somewhat overshadowed by the mid-game benching of Jimmy Rollins. Philadelphia's longest-tenured player was pulled by manager Charlie Manuel after not running out an infield popup in the sixth inning. Mets starter Jon Niese fumbled the popup, but because Rollins wasn't hustling down the first-base line, he only got one base out of it.

"I guess I handle it the way I want to handle it," Manuel said. "That's the way I look at it. Can I handle it? I don't know. We'll see. I just got to a place where it's a reflection on myself. It's a reflection on our team. It reflects on our organization."

Rollins declined to comment after the game.

More than an inning after the Phillies' three-time All-Star shortstop left the game, Kendrick exited to a standing ovation. The only real blemishes on Kendrick's day were a leadoff home run by Mike Baxter and a second-inning solo shot from Scott Hairston, who continued to excel against Philadelphia pitching.

Over the span of his four-game winning streak, Kendrick has allowed just four runs in in 29 1/3 innings. He's recorded 22 strikeouts to just 22 walks.

"Right now he feels real good about himself," Manuel said. "I think his confidence is up. I think today it showed when they hit a couple home runs early on him. He stayed right there. He toughed it out and battled through and started making pitches and everything, and ended up throwing a heck of a game."

Kendrick, who at one point retired 13 in a row on Thursday, said the biggest difference in his recent performance is simply his trust in his stuff.

"I feel like I've gotten a lot better with just the feel of my pitches," he said, "and kind of finding out what kind of pitcher I am and trusting that."

Frandsen, who has all but taken over the everyday third base duties, continued to contribute in a big way. He went 4-for-5 with a double and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. He's now tallied multiple hits in 10 of his 29 games and is hitting .355.

With the oft-injured Placido Polanco likely to become a free agent at season's end, one of the Phillies' biggest offseason needs will be an everyday third baseman. Floating around the idea of moving to the position, Chase Utley took ground balls at the hot corner on Wednesday afternoon. But among all the options, Frandsen's name has rarely been mentioned as a candidate to be the starter next year.

If he keeps up his current pace, that could very well change. But Frandsen said he doesn't worry about that stuff. He's focused about the game ahead of him, he said.

"That's for you guys to talk about and for management to decide who's going to man that spot," Frandsen said. "I just hope that I'm showing them that I want to be an integral part of this organization as far as playing here and doing whatever role I can. That's really my mentality on this whole thing. Right now, I'm worried about tomorrow and facing the Braves, not about six months from now."

It appears Frandsen's extensive audition will last throughout the season's final 31 games. Manuel acknowledged on Thursday that Frandsen will continue to get the bulk of the playing time over Polanco, who still has to prove he's healthy after recently battling a back injury.

"This is an opportunity for me to show myself as a guy who can make adjustments on a day in and day out basis," Frandsen said. "And I feel like I've done that. Then again, I know what I've done in the big leagues in the sparing time that I've had. ... The biggest thing for me was, in the Minor Leagues, I got to make those adjustments pitch by pitch, at-bat by at-bat; I didn't have to go off one at-bat a day. But if that's my role in years to come, I'll embrace that for sure. But right now I'm going to take this as long as I can."

Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.