D-backs left-hander Wade Miley continued his stellar July during his last start on Saturday against the Cubs, allowing three earned runs on seven hits over seven innings to aid Arizona's 9-3 victory.
Miley will be seeking his fourth straight win when he takes the mound on Friday in the series opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The fourth-year starter has seen his ERA on a steady decline since the start of the month, lowering the mark from 4.78 to 4.16 thanks to four consecutive quality starts.
"He's just throwing the ball really well. It's coming out of his hand good," manager Kirk Gibson said. "The other thing, I think, in his head, he's managing things a little better, as well. Really efficient with what's going on out there."
Miley will face off against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who's won just one time in his past six starts. Kendrick is 4-10 with a 4.87 ERA and has surrendered 18 runs in 16 2/3 innings over his past three starts, including two that resulted in losses.
Despite being plagued all year by an inability to escape the first inning unscathed (he has a 10.80 ERA in the first frame across his 20 starts), Kendrick faced just three batters out of the chute in his last start against the Braves. Once the second inning came around, though, things got a lot shakier. He walked two and hit two batters, and all four came around to score in the third inning.
"I was just trying to be too fine," said Kendrick, who lasted five innings and allowed six earned runs on Sunday. "It's just been a tough year for me. I don't know why. I just have to keep pitching."
D-backs: Ziegler bruised after being struck by liner
Reliever Brad Ziegler had a scary moment in the D-backs' 5-4 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night when Detroit outfielder J.D. Martinez drilled a line drive off the right-hander's ribcage in the eighth inning.
Ziegler reported feeling very sore on Wednesday. He will continue to receive treatment.
Ziegler was off-limits for Wednesday's 11-5 loss to the Tigers in the series finale. Gibson said he hopes the team's off-day on Thursday will help expedite the pitcher's recovery.
"He's pretty bruised up," Gibson said. "[I] was a little worried. I cross my fingers that it won't be that long."
Phillies: Possible platoon at first with Howard
For the second game in a row, Ryan Howard was out of the starting lineup on Thursday in favor of Darin Ruf -- and it's likely that will happen more often, manager Ryne Sandberg hinted before the series finale against the Giants.
"The way I see things, I basically wanted to give Ruf two days in a row, just to get his feet wet, see him against a right-handed pitcher, then go from there," Sandberg said. "But in all likelihood, at least after today, it will be a scenario of ... I'd be considering a platoon system at first base."
The 34-year-old Howard has had a tough season at the plate, hitting just .224 in 97 games. His struggles against lefty pitchers have been significantly pronounced, as he's hitting them at a .209 clip (his career average vs. LHP is .224).
"He understands the scuffling against left-handed pitching, but there are also some left-handed pitching he handles," Sandberg said. "I'll take a look at that ... I told him to be ready to go, continue to work at his game and be ready."
• The D-backs garnered an extra pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft thanks to the league's Competitive Balance Lottery.
• After going hitless in three at-bats on Thursday, Phillies outfielder Grady Sizemore is one shy of 1,000 career hits.
• Philly had lost five consecutive home games and nine of its last 10 until a 2-1 win over the Giants on Thursday. The Phillies' .385 winning percentage at home (20-32) this season is the worst in the National League and second-worst in the Majors.
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.