|Phillies seek bounce-back vs. improving Pirates|
The Philadelphia Phillies' playoff hopes took a major hit in South Florida over the weekend, and the club will turn to a trade-deadline acquisition in an effort to get them back on track Monday.
The Phillies return home after losing two of three to the Miami Marlins, owners of the worst record in the National League, and time is running out on postseason aspirations for manger Gabe Kapler's club.
Jason Vargas (6-6, 3.99 ERA) will take the mound Monday night as Philadelphia hosts in-state rival Pittsburgh.
Putting away some of the league's struggling teams has been a problem for the Phillies, who are 7-9 against the Marlins and lost their third straight series against the last-place team in the NL East.
The most difficult loss to bear was likely Friday night's series opener.
Philadelphia grabbed a 7-0 lead, squandered it quickly and was routed 19-11 by the Marlins in an embarrassing defeat.
"You recognize that it's unacceptable," Kapler told reporters of the poor play in the 30-run game. "I think you just call that out. ...We have to find ways to do a better job, and then we have to quickly turn the page."
Since being obtained from the New York Mets, Vargas is 0-1 in four starts, allowing two runs in three of them, and has pitched to a 3.91 ERA.
The left-hander, who won his only start against Pittsburgh this season in his last start for the Mets on July 28, is 2-0 with a 7.11 ERA in six career appearances (three starts) against the Pirates.
Bryce Harper (paternity list) will return to the lineup on Monday after leaving for Las Vegas on Wednesday night to be with wife Kayla for the birth of their son.
Harper is batting .290 with nine homers and 20 RBIs with a 1.139 OPS in his last 17 games.
Pittsburgh has struggled greatly after the All-Star break, posting an 8-30 record in the latter part of July and August until Cincinnati came to PNC Park over the weekend.
However, the Pirates swept the three-game series against the Reds and have won four of their last six games.
They scored 26 runs in the sweep, routing the NL Central foe 14-0 on Saturday behind six shutout innings from Trevor Williams and a pinch-hit grand slam from Colin Moran.
Slugger Josh Bell also belted his 32nd homer, a three-run shot that pushed him past the 100-RBI plateau for the first time.
He became the first Pirates player to hit the century mark since Pedro Alvarez hit the mark on the nose and added 36 homers in 2013.
"There's a lot of weight on that number, so it's cool to get that out of the way. Strive for more. It's cool to have that check go off in that box," Bell said.
Joe Musgrove (8-12, 4.74) will start for the Pirates. He threw six strong innings in beating the Phillies on July 20, giving up two hits and no earned runs while striking out eight in his lone outing against Philadelphia this season.
The righty also won his only other appearance against Philadelphia with three innings of scoreless relief on July 24, 2017.
--Field Level Media