Philadelphia hosts San Diego to wrap first half
Joaquin Benoit labored through the eighth inning Thursday in the Phillies 6-3 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Of the veterans on the team likely to be moved prior to the July 31 deadline his stock took the biggest hit, allowing three runs before recording a third out.

Benoit, 39, has a 5.72 ERA since May 1 and has looked over-matched. His strikeout rate is the lowest of his career since 2005 and the percent of runners he's left on base is nearly 20-percent lower this year than compared to last.

Another veteran on the block is Jeremy Hellickson who allowed three runs in six innings in his final start of the first half. After battling a month or so of inconsistency he has a 3.16 ERA in his last four starts.

“He’s a good pitcher,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s had his ups and downs this year, but in general the positives outweigh the minuses. He’s going to throw you strikes and on a given day, he’s really tough to hit. Today, he got hurt by the long ball but still gave us six innings.”

Pat Neshek, another veteran likely on the move, tossed a scoreless seventh inning.

The Phillies haven’t won three consecutive games since June 3-6. That was one of only two times all season they won more than back-to-back contests.

Up Next
The San Diego Padres visit Philadelphia for a three-game weekend set starting tonight to close out the first half of the season. The Padres have struggled on the road, stumbling to a 14-27 mark.

Clayton Richard is set to start the opener. He gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 30 in his most recent start. In his past two outings, he has given up 12 runs in 9 2/3 innings.

The Padres enter this series with the highest strikeout rate at the plate in the majors at 25.9-percent.

Nick Pivetta will be on the mound for the Phillies, aiming to build off his best outing of the season on Sunday when he tossed seven terrific innings against the New York Mets surrendering only one hit — a solo home run — while striking out four.

“He still needs work on his secondary pitches, but once he hones those, he’s got a chance to be really good,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after the win over the Mets. “I really like him.”
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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