ATLANTA -- Kyle Kendrick started Wednesday. Really, he did. The rookie began his outing strongly, throwing five scoreless frames and retiring seven straight heading into the sixth. That's where things got fuzzy. Willie Harris opened the sixth with a solo homer, and Kelly Johnson singled and scored on Chipper Jones' double, cutting the lead to 5-2. The three hits were enough for manager Charlie Manuel to lift the rookie after 88 pitches.
The Phillies have been growing concerned about Kendrick's innings totals, as the righty heads into deep September, and Manuel figured this was a good chance to turn it over to the bullpen. "We had our pitching set up," Manuel said. "J.C. [Romero] and [Kane] Davis did a good job, and [Geoff] Geary pitched the seventh." The eighth and ninth innings of fluke hits proved to be the problem. Though Kendrick's day ended with him allowing two runs in five innings, he was unable to throw a quality start statistically (at least six innings pitched with three or fewer runs allowed), something he'd done in 10 of his 16 outings. Eaton up the Mets: The Phillies game notes list their starters for the Florida series as "TBA" vs. Byung-Hyun Kim, Rick VandenHurk and Dontrelle Willis, respectively. Though there has been no official word, the team appears to have juggled its rotation to allow Adam Eaton to pitch Sept. 16 against the Mets, a team he is 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA against in six career appearances. Eaton, who sports the National League's worst ERA (6.28), said he won't pitch on Saturday, his next scheduled turn, and will start Sept. 11 vs. the Rockies, allowing him to come back five days later for the final game of the Mets series at Shea Stadium. That would set up a likely weekend rotation of J.D. Durbin, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Lohse, with Kendrick opening the Colorado series on Monday. Armed and dangerous: Braves pitcher Buddy Carlyle missed his bunt, Carlos Ruiz fired a pellet to nail Yunel Escobar, who had strayed too far from second base anticipating the sacrifice. In that baserunner-erasing moment on Tuesday, Ruiz picked up Jayson Werth -- whose dropped fly ball allowed Escobar to reach in the first place -- and gave pitcher Kyle Lohse one less thing to worry about. It's a designed play, explained catching instructor Mick Billmeyer. In sacrifice situations, the catcher always keeps an eye on the runner, knowing he wants to make sure he gets a good jump. "Carlos is confident and likes to throw," Billmeyer said. "He keeps everybody tight. He worked on it in instructional league. It's timing and he's good at it." "I try to do that a lot," Ruiz said. "I talk to Jimmy [Rollins] and Chase [Utley] every time. They know that I like to throw. I like to be aggressive. It was good because the pitcher was bunting and I had a chance. We got two outs there instead of one [because Carlyle eventually struck out]. That was good for the team." Ruiz has found a recent groove throwing. He also picked New York's Carlos Delgado off first base on Aug. 30. "I was watching," Ruiz said. "Every time, I look at the runner and try to read how his lead and how [fast] he goes back to the base. I thought I had a good chance. I like to put pressure on the runners, and want to show them that I'm going to be aggressive." Lohse, who also started that day against Mets, is fine with it. He may even adopt a different strategy. "It makes giving up hits easier, because he'll just pick the guy off," Lohse said with a laugh. "I don't care about giving up a hit, because he'll get him. I'll just throw one out of the [strike] zone. It's great to have someone back there with an arm like that." Now they're friends: On Aug. 24-26, Pete Laforest was the enemy in a Padres jersey, during an emotional series in Philadelphia. Now, a waiver claim has made them all buddies. Laforest joined his new teammates a day after the Phillies claimed him from San Diego. "This is great," he said. "San Diego tried to sneak me through waivers and I was supposed to rejoin the team. I don't think they expected me to get picked up, but it happened and now I'm here. I have an opportunity with this team, and we have a chance to make the playoffs, too. It's the same [Wild Card] race." "They've got a great team. They have everything you need to win the pennant. I'm glad I can join them." Laforest will serve as the team's fourth catcher and left-handed bat off the bench. He hit .360 in 25 at-bats this season for the Padres. The 29-year-old remembers spilling onto the field in the fourth inning on Aug. 24, when Carlos Ruiz went out of his way to slide into second baseman Marcus Giles, angering the Padres. What does he think of the slide now? "It was just a bad slide," he said, trying not to say too much. That brawl was nothing compared to what Laforest dealt with at home in Hull, Quebec (Canada). Born Pierre-Luc LaForest, he grew rooting for the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, which didn't go over well with his mother, who cheered for the Quebec Nordiques. "There was a fight in the house every night," he said. Available soon for Amazon pre-order: Chris Coste may watch a movie on Thursday's flight to Philadelphia, play a video game or chat with teammates. Anything but turn on his computer. The Major Leaguer/author celebrated finally finishing his second book, titled "Catching the Dream," and submitted the 98,000 words -- 18,000 more than needed -- to his publisher for a June or July release date. "When I started it, I knew I had plenty of stuff, but I didn't know what 80,000 [words] meant," Coste said. "Any question I had about whether to put something in, I put in. It was a challenge to decide whether something was interesting or whether it was insignificant." Coste's autobiography tells of his 13-year odyssey through the independent leagues and Minor Leagues, and ends with the last game of the 2006 season. Beyond that would go into his next story. For now, the computer stays in its case. "I may wipe away tears when I put a DVD in," Coste said. "There are so many movies I have to get caught up on, because every waking moment I was typing away." Philling In: Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. interviewed to be the Astros GM on Thursday. Former GM Ed Wade is also vying for the position. Coming up: The Phillies will return home Friday to open a three-game series against the Marlins at 7:05 p.m. ET. J.D. Durbin (6-4, 6.27) will make the start for the Phils opposite Florida's Byung-Hyun Kim (8-6, 5.54).
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.