Before Roy Halladay’s first pitch of the game against Texas on Friday, Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler summed it up perfectly:   “He’s pitched two straight complete-game losses; that’s gotta stop.”

The last pitcher to have three straight complete games without a win was Steve Carlton in 1973

The lineup has been in a slump, but the starting pitching has done its job.  The Phillies entered interleague play with a 26-17 record; they’ve lost five of six.

They still have the best record in the National League.

Texas can really score.  They’re aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths.  It’s going to be an interesting three-game set and a potential World Series matchup.

One important question surrounding the Phillies: with Shane Victorino on the disabled list, who’ll step it up in the outfield?

With the call-up of Dominic Brown, it’s a tryout for the starting right field job.

The Phillies need someone to pick up the slack in the two, five and six holes in the batting lineup.

John Mayberry has produced, while Ben Francisco has slumped.  Brown will get an opportunity to play some right field.  With Mayberry’s ability to play center, he’ll be given playing time. Philadelphia 76ers youngster Jrue Holliday broke out this year in the NBA and Mayberry looks like him—maybe that’s an omen.

The opposing pitchers are approaching Ryan Howard cautiously, and he’s been cold lately.  He’s in a 0-for-23 slide.  Pitchers will continue to pitch him cautiously if no one steps up behind him.

It’s not a coincidence that the Phillies have lost five of six during Howard’s slump.  He’ll get out of it.

The call-up of Brown may have fueled Francisco’s fire as he launched a two-run home run in the left field seats in the bottom of the second to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Phillies.

Raul Ibanez is an interesting hitter.  He’s known to get cold in long stretches, but hot in long stretches as well.  At 39, many have given up on him.  In 2010 he got off to a slow start, but picked it up in the second half.  A year prior in 2009, he had an MVP-like stretch in the first half of the season. 

Charlie Manuel sticks with his players, so I expect Raul Ibanez to continue playing left.

He hit a solo shot to deep center to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth.

As for the two-hole that Victorino’s occupied for most of the season, Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez have shared the spot in his absence.  Pete Orr has gotten some starts at second base as well.

Chase Utley continues to progress in Clearwater. 

As the Phillies search for production after Howard, Placido Polanco looks like he’ll remain third in the order. 

With the dominant starting pitching, if the offense can muster three runs, they’ll have a great chance at winning.

Steve Carlton can pop a champagne bottle; his three consecutive no-decision complete games record remains intact.  Roy Halladay went just eight innings tonight, but the Phillies won 3-2 with Halladay getting the win.

Cliff Lee starts the second game of the series; that should be fun.

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