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Talking Behind Their Back: Phillies

The Orioles are riding a five game winning streak after pulling off an unexpected sweep of the "World * bleepin* Champion" Phillies in Philadelphia. Perhaps more importantly, Baltimore did a little bit of everything in the series.

Game 1 starter Rich Hill shook off a dicey beginning to his outing to pitch into the seventh inning and deliver the game winning hit early in a 7-2 victory Friday.

Game 2 was perhaps the Orioles' most-enjoyable win of the season. Or as Manager Dave Trembley put it: "This is one to think about and really enjoy. This is a great game by us. We played all 27 outs."

Brad Bergesen tossed six fine innings but came undone in the seventh, yielding four runs in what became a five-run inning for the Phillies. Philadelphia got a mammoth three-run homer by Ryan Howard who was making an appearance between stints in the hospital for the flu. The Orioles seemed doomed as the team went into the ninth inning having yet to come back when trailing after the eighth. That changed when Brian Roberts hit his first home run since May 21, a two-run shot to right field that helped the O's secure a 6-5 victory.

Sunday's Game 3 figured to go in the Phillies' favor. Philadelphia had ace Cole Hamels on the mound against a scuffling Jeremy Guthrie. Add in the fact that the Orioles don't have a good track record in series finales, road series finales or on Sundays and well logic seemed to dictate a Baltimore loss.

Hamels was as good as advertised, striking out 10 over eight innings while yielding two runs on nine hits. Guthrie was even better, though. Baltimore's de facto ace allowed one run (the 17th homer Guthrie has allowed this season) and three hits over seven innings to pick up his first win since May 25. Again, Brian Roberts was the hero for the Orioles, as he hit a single to score the winning run in the eighth inning and give the O's a 2-1 win.

With good pitching and timely hitting, the Orioles looked like a team that is in fact making strides. Baltimore hopes to ride the momentum of five straight wins and its first road series sweep since May 2007 and improve upon their 9-3 interleague record as they begin a three-game series tonight in Miami to take on the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins sport a 7-5 interleague record and just took two of three at home against the New York Yankees. After starting off the season 11-1, Florida has come back down to earth and sits one game under .500 at 35-36 after a rough May that saw the team go just 9-20. Curiously, the Marlins are just 17-20 at home but have a winning record on the road, which is unusual for a fairly young team.

An interesting subplot to this series will be shortstop Robert Andino. The Orioles acquired Andino from Florida in exchange for former pitching prospect Hayden Penn. Penn has since been released by the Marlins while Andino has been huge for Baltimore since being pressed into the starting lineup after starting shortstop Cesar Izturis had to undergo and emergency appendectomy.

Since becoming the team's everyday shortstop during a putrid West Coast swing earlier this month, Andino has hit .255 with a .283 OBP and offered a strong defensive presence over the 15-game span. None of his numbers have him being mentioned anywhere near being an all-star but considering how little the Orioles got out of the shortstop position last year, to get more than serviceable work from a back-up is a welcomed surprise.

Both teams will be throwing out the back end of their rotations in the series with the pitching matchups looking like this:

Andrew Miller vs. Koji Uehara
Ricky Nolasco vs. Jason Berken
Sean West vs. Rich Hill

Miller, a young lefty, is just 2-4 in eight starts this season with a 4.56 ERA and has only pitched a full seven innings once this year. Miller was part of the package that the Detroit Tigers sent to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis after the 2007 season.

After a 15-8 season last year, Nolasco is just 3-6 in 2009 and sports a garish 7.15 ERA in 12 starts. Nolasco has allowed at least two runs in all but one start (his last, a 2-1 rain-shortened win over the Boston Red Sox last week).

West is 2-2 in this, his rookie season, and has a tidy 3.97 ERA. The 6-foot-8 left-hander has made six starts this year with his last start being his shortest, taking it on the chin from the Yankees after giving up five runs on 10 hits in four innings.

By CJ Holley  |  June 23, 2009; 3:44 PM ET
Categories:  Marlins , Orioles , Phillies  | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins, Talking Behind Their Back, philadelphia phillies  
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