Game Day Preview: Phillies (40-33) at Reds (42-34)

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Kevin McAlpin covers the Phillies for 97.5 The Fanatic.  Follow him on Twitter (@KevinMcAlpin)
 
The Phillies and their suddenly surging bats open a three-game series in The Queen City tonight with the Reds.  Averaging just shy of seven runs per game, the Phils have won eight of their last 11 and have cut three games off the Braves lead in the NL East.  Entering play tonight, the two-time NL Champs are just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the division.  Timely hitting has been a key ingredient in the recent success.  The weather, just like the Phillies offense has been red hot after disappearing for close to a month.  Jimmy Rollins is back atop the line-up, the middle of the order is hitting, and the reserves have produced some key pinch hits. 

Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 4.71) gets the start in the series opener tonight looking to bounce back after a shaky outing last Wednesday against the Indians where he was touched up for five runs on six hits in just four innings.  The 25 year old righty has never lost to the Reds, and is 4-1 over his last nine starts.  Reds starter Johnny Cueto (7-2, 3.97) pitched seven shut-out innings at Oakland on Wednesday, and has given up two runs or fewer in six of his last nine starts.  The Reds come in to play tonight with a half-game lead in the NL central, and lead the NL in hitting (.273), runs scored (369), hits (708), RBI (357) and slugging percentage (.440). 

Even with their success this season in Interleague Play, the consensus in the clubhouse is that the Phillies welcome the return of League Play.  "I'm glad that Interleague Play is over," said Charlie Manuel.  "I'm looking forward to playing our division.  We've got a race going on right now.  Our division is better than it was last year." 

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