The Arizona Diamondbacks (54-51) and Philadelphia Phillies (47-58) will open up a three-game National League series on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies   

Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard is slumping badly entering Friday night's contest

Arizona enjoyed a day off on Thursday after putting the finishing touches on a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, pulling the team within 1.5 games of second place in the NL West division.  “It’s very nice, it’s a good feeling,” commented Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson.  It’s important to note that the club may have a hard time in the City of Brotherly Love, dropping nine of its last 10 games at this ballpark.  Arizona is 8-8 on the road with a money line of -100 to -125, with the “under” going 10-6 in that situation.

Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (9-8, 4.20 ERA) will put his three-game win streak on the line, which includes a 6-3 home victory over the New York Mets last time out, allowing three runs and seven hits over 6.1 frames.  The right-hander is 4-6 with a 3.68 ERA in 11 road outings, issuing just 14 walks and striking out 61 batters in 71 frames.  In three career games versus the Phillies, Kennedy has tallied a 1-1 record and 2.25 ERA.

Philadelphia was shutout for the fifth time in a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals last night, as a new-look lineup was only able to muster up three hits.  “We didn’t square nothing up,” stated Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.  The Phillies played that contest without the services of first baseman Ryan Howard, who has struck out 11 times in his last 16 at-bats, which may continue due to being hitless in six tries against Kennedy.  Philadelphia is 1-7 as a home underdog of +100 to +125 this season.

Phillies starting pitcher Joe Blanton (8-9, 4.59 ERA) suffered a 2-1 setback on the road to the Atlanta Braves last time out, but has thrown the ball well of late, giving up three runs or fewer in his last three efforts.  The right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.59 ERA in 10 home outings, surrendering 14 home runs in 66.2 frames.  In two lifetime appearances versus the Diamondbacks, Blanton has tallied a 1-1 record and 9.00 ERA.

Sports bettors will likely play the total in this contest, with the UNDER going 4-0-1 in Blanton’s last five starts overall.

Pick:  Under 8.5

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