| Sports |

Overmatched D-Backs Are Swept by the Mashing Philadelphia Phillies. Next up: Houston Astros.

The Arizona Diamondbacks barely made it out of Philadelphia alive Thursday after enduring a three-day whipping by the defending world champion Phillies. The D-Backs, who had been playing relatively solid baseball since the All-Star break, were simply overmatched in every facet of the game -- pitching, hitting, defense -- in the sweep, which culminated in a 12-3 drubbing on Thursday. But, really, the three-game series said more about Phillie dominance than it did about D-Back futility. The Phils' potent lineup is clicking right now and the team is showing why it has to be considered the favorite to represent the National League in the World Series.

Thursday's starter, left-hander Doug Davis, was roughed up, big-time, against the Phils' lineup, which offers opposing pitchers little room for error. It starts with surging shortstop Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot. Another effective speed-power guy, Shane Victorino, bats second. Then, it's a murderer's row of heavy hitters: Chase Utley, possibly the best all-around left-handed hitter in the National League; Ryan Howard, a former MVP and perennial 40-homer guy; Jayson Werth, another speed-power guy (four homers in the three-game series) who's having a breakout season; Raul Ibañez, a veteran who's having a career year; Pedro Feliz, who pales in comparison to the rest of his lineup mates but still may be the best No. 7 hitter in the NL; and Carlos Ruiz, not a great hitter by any stretch but a guy who launched a homer Thursday in cozy Citizens Bank Ballpark.

Meanwhile, the D-Backs continue to be the D-Backs, playing out the string while trying out lots of young guys for next year. One of the most telling stats of the series against the Phillies? The D-Backs didn't have one base on balls in three games. Oy. Anyway, they've lost five in a row as they head into Houston tonight for a three-game series against the Astros, a team that has all but fallen out of wild card consideration. The D-Backs, of course, have been out of it for a good long time. For the Snakes, it's all about staying out of the NL West basement. They hold a 3.5-game lead on the hapless San Diego Padres for fourth place in the division.

Here's how the Astros series will unfold:

Tonight: Yumeiro Petit (2-7, 6.47 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (6-4, 4.01), 5:05 p.m.

Saturday: Max Scherzer (7-7, 4.00, 135 strikeouts in 128.1 innings pitched) vs. Brian Moehler (7-9, 5.40), 5:05 p.m.

Sunday: Jon Garland (6-11, 4.42) vs. Bud Norris, (3-1, 4.05, 26 K in 26.1 IP), 12:05 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. Info: www.dbacks.com 

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