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One of the hottest pitchers in the National League over the past few weeks has been Phillies No. 4 starter Kyle Kendrick, who has been a big reason the Phils are shockingly in the wild-card race. He takes the mound Saturday and should beat Houston. Bet on Phillies-Astros at WagerWeb.com.
Pittsburgh at Chicago Cubs – Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.72) vs. Cubs RHP Jason Berken (0-0, 18.00): Rodriguez can’t pitch better than he did on Monday, when he took a one-hitter into the seventh in Cincinnati. The Pirates lost after he got the hook after 89 pitches, and he’ll be out to make up for that disappointment. … This would have been Jeff Samardzija’s spot, but he was shut down after Saturday’s game because he had reached his maximum innings. Berken, acquired off waivers from the Orioles on Friday, was 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk.
Washington at Atlanta – Nationals RHP Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85) vs. Braves RHP Tommy Hanson (12-8, 4.35): The Marlins spoiled Jackson’s 29th birthday. They scored six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings off the righty. It started in the second inning, when Greg Dobbs scored on a single by Rob Brantly. … After struggling through most of the second half, Hanson has looked better of late, allowing just four runs on nine hits over 11 1/3 innings in two September starts. He retired the first 10 Mets batters he faced Sunday.
Philadelphia at Houston – Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (9-10, 3.83) vs. Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.35): Kendrick has been nothing short of brilliant over his last six starts. He is 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA in that stretch. He is a big reason why the Phillies have crept back into National League Wild Card contention after being 14 under .500 on July 13. … After getting a complete-game victory over the Indians in his second Major League start on June 23, Keuchel has gone 0-7 with a 6.35 ERA in his next 11 starts. He’s allowed 66 hits in 56 2/3 innings in that span.
Cincinnati at Miami – Reds RHP Johnny Cueto (17-8, 2.71) vs. Marlins LHP Mark Buehrle (12-12, 3.74): Cueto lost back-to-back outings for the first time since May after tying his shortest outing of the season Sunday with just four innings. He gave up four runs on nine hits to the last-place Astros and is still in search of his 18th win this season. … Buehrle pitched seven innings for the second straight outing, although the lefty didn’t earn a decision. He gave up three runs on five hits, including two home runs, against the Nationals. He walked two and struck out five — his most since Aug. 10.
NY Mets at Milwaukee – Mets RHP Jennry Mejia (0-0, 4.50) vs. Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.71): Mejia will make his first start exactly two years after he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2011 season. He gave up one run — courtesy of a home run — over two innings on Sept. 7, his only appearance this season. … In four starts since returning from a two-month stint on the DL, Marcum has pitched five, four, 5 2/3 and five innings, three of those turning into Brewers losses. He has extra incentive since as a free agent at season’s end.
San Francisco at Arizona – Giants LHP Barry Zito (11-8, 4.33) vs. Diamondbacks LHP Wade Miley (15-9, 3.07): In one of his biggest wins as a Giant, Zito pitched 6 1/3 innings last time out in a 4-0 victory against the Dodgers and a three-game series win. The Giants have now won seven straight Zito starts even with his 4.53 ERA in those games. … Miley has pitched his way into contention for NL Rookie of the Year honors. He got the win last time out against the Padres despite allowing five runs over 5 1/3 innings. His lone appearance vs. Giants this year was a four-inning relief stint.
Colorado at San Diego – Rockies LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-8, 4.80) vs. Padres RHP Casey Kelly (1-1, 7.07): Pomeranz has reached five innings just once in his last eight starts, but received generally positive reviews for his four innings against the Phillies on Sunday. Getting ahead of hitters is a challenge. … After tossing six shutout innings against the Braves in his debut, Kelly has allowed 11 earned runs in his last eight innings in two starts. He’ll try to command his fastball and curveball better this time out. His changeup was pretty good, though.
St. Louis at LA Dodgers – Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7, 4.41) vs. Dodgers RHP Joe Blanton (9-13, 4.98): Given Garcia’s struggles pitching on the road, the Cards discussed going another direction before deciding to stand pat. The hope is that Garcia can better mimic his home routine on the road so that he can improve his level of comfort. … Pitching on short notice his last time out because of an injury to Clayton Kershaw, Blanton surrendered four runs over 5 1/3 innings vs. the Giants, taking the loss. The last time he faced the Cards, the righty allowed seven runs on 10 hits.