Phillies not making it easy for Dodgers

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- PHILADELPHIA -- A series between the team with the best record in baseball and one with the second-worst certainly hasn't gone the way one might expect.

Just a few games away from clinching their fifth division title in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers have run into a surprisingly difficult Philadelphia Phillies squad in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Phillies (60-91) took the first two of a four-game series between the clubs, beating two Dodgers aces along the way. First, an Aaron Altherr grand slam beat Clayton Kershaw 4-3 on Monday night. Then, Rhys Hoskins' three-run double in the seventh inning lifted the Phillies to a 5-2 win on Tuesday night in a game that Yu Darvish started.

"It was nice to beat the Dodgers with Kershaw and Darvish pitching," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're playing well right now. Good to beat the Dodgers."

Despite the defeats, the Dodgers (96-55) have their magic number to clinch the National League West down to two. The second-place Arizona Diamondbacks, 9 1/2 games back in the division race, have lost three straight.

If the Dodgers want to wrap up the division at Citizens Bank Park, they will have to get through a Phillies team that is 17-14 over its past 31 games.

"Teams that have nothing to play for but are trying to establish themselves, those are dangerous teams," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "They're gutty and they play hard."

Roberts will hand the ball Wednesday to yet another impressive starting pitcher, left-hander Alex Wood.

Wood (15-3, 2.69 ERA) is coming off throwing six shutout innings against the Washington Nationals on Friday, the eighth time this year he kept the opposition off the scoreboard in one of his starts. He went at least five innings each of those outings, and he has thrown six or more shutout innings six times.

Though shoulder issues sent him to the DL in late August, Wood feels as if he is back to where he needs to be to help the Dodgers go for their first World Series since 1988.

"I'm pretty close, still a little bit to go," Wood said after the win over Washington. "I've been working really hard to solidify my mechanics and get back to where I need to be for the playoffs."

In 13 career appearances (eight starts) against the Phillies, Wood is 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA. He has not faced Philadelphia this season.

Phillies starter Jake Thompson will make his 10th start of the season on Wednesday night as he faces the Dodgers for the first time this year.

Thompson (2-2, 4.46 ERA) is coming off a strong outing against the Miami Marlins last Thursday. He gave up six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, but he struck out six to help keep him from allowing any runs. It was Thompson's first win since July 28, a span of five starts.

He faced the Dodgers once as a rookie in 2016, giving up five earned runs in five innings during a 7-2 loss.

Updated September 20, 2017

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