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ATL@PHI: Kendrick strikes out eight over eight frames

MIAMI -- If Kyle Kendrick wants to help stop the bleeding for the Phillies, he will have to fare well in the early goings of Thursday night's finale of a three-game series at Marlins Park.

The right-hander's weakness in 2014 has been the first inning. In his last start, against the Braves on Friday, he allowed three runs in the opening frame, but just one over his next seven. He has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning this season, but a 3.34 ERA in every other inning.

"It's hard to explain," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's worked on it and worked on doing up and down [before the game] simulating like it's longer into the game. He just seems to fall behind and be too perfect. That results in some aggressive swings when he's behind in the count. After that, he seems to figure it out."

The Marlins, meanwhile, need some consistency out of the fifth spot in their rotation, and manager Mike Redmond is hoping Brad Hand will deliver it Thursday in his return from the disabled list. Hand, who sprained an ankle May 23, is the 10th starter the Marlins have used this season.

Before landing on the DL, Hand was primarily used as a reliever, though he did make two starts in April in place of the injured Jacob Turner (who has since taken a bullpen role). He gave up eight runs in those two starts against the Nationals and only ended up pitching 6 1/3 innings across them.

In 16 appearances for the Marlins, he posted a 6.38 ERA and an 0-1 record. The left-hander credited his issues to difficulty staying ahead in the count and tried to remedy that during his rehab stint, which spanned six starts between Class-A Jupiter and Triple-A New Orleans. Despite giving up three runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings Sunday, Hand managed to put up a 2.38 ERA and a 2-0 record in the Minors while holding hitters in the Pacific Coast League to a .234 average.

If those improvements hold Thursday, Redmond might give Hand the chance to stay in the fifth spot a little longer.

"We'll see how it goes," Redmond said. "We've tried some different guys. It's an opportunity for somebody to run with it. We'd love for Brad Hand to step in there and pitch great and be the guy for the rest of the season. That would be outstanding. That would make things a lot easier for all of us."

Phillies: Lee ready to get on mound
Cliff Lee, who has been on the DL since May with a strained left elbow, will throw 65-75 pitches in a rehab start Sunday with Class A Advanced Clearwater, the Phillies said on Wednesday. He threw three innings in a simulated game Tuesday at Marlins Park.

"Cliff came out of it fine," Sandberg said.

Lee might need just one rehab assignment, although Lee speculated Tuesday he would need two. If he needs one he could rejoin the rotation before the All-Star break. If he needs two, it would be shortly after the break.

"That'll be a judgment," Sandberg said. "We'll see how he looks and feels after that. We'll see if he needs one more or not."

Marlins: Home field not so friendly
For a team that started off with a Majors-leading 20-8 record at home, Marlins Park hasn't been the kindest to its denizens of late.

In June, the Marlins batted just .223 and scored 54 runs in 16 home games for an average of 3.4 runs per game. In the first two months of the season, however, they scored 163 times and batted .285. That was an average of 5.4 runs per game.

The Marlins have 10 home games on their schedule in July. They'll have to make the most of their chances because they're 14-22 on the road, with a .241 average and 137 runs. The pitching staff has a 4.30 ERA in 36 road games, compared to a 3.57 ERA in 47 home games entering Wednesday.

Worth noting
• Following Wednesday's 5-0 win, the Marlins placed Tom Koehler on the paternity list and reinstated Hand from the disabled list. Koehler pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits and a walk in his third straight quality start.

• Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was placed on the paternity list Wednesday. Double-A Reading outfielder Aaron Altherr was recalled to take Brown's place on the 25-man roster.

• Phillies catcher Wil Nieves, who is on the DL with a strained right quadriceps, began a rehab assignment Wednesday in the Gulf Coast League. He will catch half a game Thursday and possibly an entire game Friday. He is eligible to be activated on Friday.

• The Marlins' Casey McGehee, who was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double Wednesday night, is now tied for fourth-most hits in the National League with 100. He is the first Marlin with 100 hits before the All-Star break since Gaby Sanchez did it in 2011.

McGehee has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NL and fourth-longest in the league this season. Comments