After taking care of the best team in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies will now look for similar success against one of the worst.
The second-place Phillies will try for a season-high sixth consecutive victory and attempt to climb further up the division standings when they open a weekend series against the slumping Florida Marlins on Friday.Philadelphia (71-62) posted a dramatic 11-10 home win over the first-place New York Mets on Thursday to complete a huge four-game sweep and cut the Mets' lead to two games.The Phillies have made up five games on the division leader during their winning streak, as New York has lost five straight. The Mets open a weekend series at third-place Atlanta on Friday."We've overcome a lot of obstacles," said Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, who is batting .400 (6-for-15) in three games since returning from a broken hand. "We want to win."On Thursday, Utley singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Phillies won despite blowing leads of five and three runs. Pat Burrell hit two home runs, while Ryan Howard and Aaron Rowand also homered for Philadelphia, which recorded its first four-game sweep of any club since Sept. 4-7, 2003, also against the Mets."It's a testament to all the guys that we never quit," Rowand said.Burrell has three homers in his last two games.Howard, meanwhile, is batting .500 (15-for-30) with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last seven games. He is 4-for-6 with two homers lifetime against Florida's Friday starter Sergio Mitre.The Phillies are hitting the road for six games after finishing a 6-4 homestand.Florida (58-76), meanwhile, has lost 13 of its last 15 games -- and eight of nine at home -- including a 7-4 defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday. The Marlins are tied with Washington for last place in the NL East."It's definitely tough," Wednesday's losing pitcher Dontrelle Willis said. "We've been struggling."Hanley Ramirez is batting .300 (9-for-30) in his last seven games to remain among the top hitters in the NL with a .331 average. He is batting .320 (16-for-50) with three homers against Philadelphia this season.Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera is mired in a 6-for-47 slump, but is hitting .375 (18-for-48) with three homers against Philadelphia in 2007.These teams have split 12 games in this season's series, but Florida has won two of three in each of the two series played at Dolphin Stadium.Mitre (5-7, 4.30 ERA) will try to avoid a third straight losing decision after allowing seven runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 11-7 defeat at Cincinnati on Saturday.Philadelphia will counter with Kyle Kendrick (7-3, 3.89), who looks for his third straight victory. He allowed one run and six hits in six innings of a 14-2 win over San Diego on Sunday, when the Phillies started their current run."I am surprised at what Kyle has brought to this team," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I didn't realize his composure would be this good."The rookie right-hander allowed two runs in seven innings, but didn't record a decision in a 4-2 loss to Mitre and the Marlins on Aug. 9 -- his only start against them.