Kyle Kendrick has been pulling his weight since the season started, outpitching the more highly paid and highly touted Lee, Halladay and Cole Hamels. His excellent season continued Tuesday in a 6-2 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park, where he allowed six hits and two runs and struck out six in seven innings.
Kendrick has put the Phillies in position to sweep the Giants with a victory in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. He is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in seven starts.
"No, I can't say enough about it," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, when asked about Kendrick's season. "But if I want to go to sleep tonight I better quit, I guess. Because we have to come back out here early in the morning. Hell, I'll be out here at 7:30. No, he's been super. He's done really good."
Kendrick gave up a couple of runs in the third, but worked out of a jam in the fourth when he allowed a single to Buster Posey and third baseman Michael Young committed an error to put runners on first and second with no outs. Kendrick struck out Gregor Blanco and Brandon Belt looking on a changeup and sinker, respectively, before getting Brandon Crawford to ground out to end the inning.
"Kyle's pitched great," Chase Utley said. "It seems like every game, he definitely gives us a chance to win. He's staying composed, he's getting out of big jams, he's making good pitches definitely when he needs to."
"His delivery is different," Blanco said. "He has a quickness, I guess, in his arm. It's the same velocity but the way he's throwing the ball is kind of sneaky."
Kendrick got help as the Phillies played their second consecutive "complete" game, following Monday's 6-2 victory. The Phillies took advantage of some early opportunities offered by Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum to take a 3-0 lead in the second.
The Phillies scored their first run in the first, when Utley reached on an infield single, advanced to second on Lincecum's throwing error and scored on Ryan Howard's single to right. They scored twice in the second, when Laynce Nix and Ben Revere hit back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third following a sacrifice bunt from Kendrick. Nix scored on a fielder's choice from Rollins and Revere scored on a single from Utley.
Utley crushed a first-pitch slider from Lincecum into the stands in right-center field in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.
Utley had been in a 1-for-16 slump before he arrived in San Francisco. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored Monday before going 3-for-5 with one home run, two RBIs and two runs scored Tuesday. He is hitting .276 with four doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 23 RBIs this season, giving him as good a chance as any Phillies player of making the National League All-Star team.
Young could take a run at a spot, too. He doubled to score Rollins in the seventh inning to give the Phillies a 5-2 lead before Howard added a solo homer in the ninth. Young is hitting .330 with six doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs.
Kendrick? He is pitching like a man that will earn some consideration, too. He has paced the rotation so far. And with Halladay out indefinitely with an injured right shoulder, they need him to keep it up.
"We've just got to step up," Kendrick said. "Obviously you hate to lose a guy like that. He's been good for a long time, so everybody has to step up more by themselves. For us as starters, we've just got to try to give us a chance to win every game. That's all you can do. Try to pitch as deep as you can."
Kendrick has pitched seven or more innings in four of his last five starts. He has not allowed more than two runs in a start since he allowed five in his first start of the season. He is doing everything he is supposed to do and more.
"I've always loved baseball, but obviously when you win it's more fun," he said. "We're having a good time right now. Hopefully we can keep winning. I'm feeling good. I feel like every time we go out there, we're going to win a game. That's kind of how I feel right now."