If Kyle Kendrick can get through the first inning, he is usually just fine. The trouble is, the righty does not usually come out unscathed.
Kendrick has allowed 12 of his 36 earned runs in the first frame. He will try to change that Thursday afternoon when the Padres and the Phillies wrap up a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park.
"KK has had problems with that in numerous starts, as far as putting up a zero right away," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after Kendrick's most recent start. "To put up a zero there and let us try and add on there, that would be key."
In his past six starts, Kendrick is 1-3 with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.31 K/BB ratio. Overall, he is 1-6 and has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his past four outings. Fortunately for Philadelphia, Padres lefty Eric Stults has not been much better of late.
Stults has allowed 18 earned runs in his past 19 innings, with opponents posting a .308/.365/.590 slash line against. On the season, the lefty has a 5.68 ERA and 1.55 WHIP.
In Stults' latest start, he allowed six runs and eight hits before being yanked after 2 1/3 innings.
"His pitches are up in the zone; he's not locating his fastball," Padres manager Bud Black said after a 6-0 loss to the Nationals. "A pitcher like Stultsy has to hit his spots. And today he didn't do it, and they took advantage of it."
The Phillies have been significantly better against left-handers in 2014, batting .261 with a .325 on-base percentage as a team. Against righties, those numbers are .230 and .297.
Padres: Erlin likely to have another MRI exam
Robbie Erlin's path to recovery is no farther along than it was three weeks ago when he received an MRI exam on his sore left elbow.
Erlin has been on the disabled list since May 22 after tests revealed some fluid in his elbow. He had experienced discomfort in that elbow in three previous starts.
"He was examined, and I think they want to have one more MRI, one more look to compare it to where he was like three weeks ago when they did it the last time," Black said. "So they're going to compare that and then see if he's good to go as far as getting back on a throwing program."
Tim Stauffer has made taken Erlin's spot in the rotation. Erlin has posted a 4.53 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 3.55 K/BB ratio in nine outings this year (eight starts).
Phillies: Lee takes small step forward
Left-hander Cliff Lee said he felt fine after some light throwing Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Lee has been on the disabled list since May 19 with a strained left elbow. It was the first time he had thrown since May 18, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings against the Reds. Lee said his elbow, though not yet 100 percent, was improving. There is no timetable for his return.
"He'll do that every other day for a couple of days and then back to back after that twice," Sandberg said of the 30 to 35 throws Lee made Tuesday.
"And then keep progressing from there. … He just said he's gradually gotten better, and it got to the point where, pretty much no sensation in there. So that was the indication to start throwing yesterday."
• Phillies third baseman Cody Asche on Friday is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lakewood. Sandberg said Asche may need six to seven rehab games before he could rejoin the team. Asche has been on the DL since May 23 with a strained left hamstring.
Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac have been playing third while Asche is out. They entered Wednesday hitting a combined .188 (12-for-64) with two doubles, two RBIs, six walks and 22 strikeouts at third base since then.
• Seth Smith is 9-for-15 with four extra-base hits in his career against Kendrick.
• Jimmy Rollins' single up the middle in the first inning Wednesday moved him within two hits of tying Mike Schmidt for the franchise's all-time hits record. Schmidt has 2,234 hits.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.