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MIA@PHI: Kendrick hurls seven frames of two-hit ball

The Phillies had their seven-game winning streak snapped Thursday night, but bounced back with a 12-6 win against the last-place Astros Friday night, keeping themselves right in the hunt for the postseason.

Philadelphia has now won 16 of its past 21 and is looking to make a strong push in the final stretch of the season to take hold of a Wild Card spot.

"I knew [Thursday] when we had 19 games [left] that 19 in a row was going to be hard to do," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "I knew that. Maybe we can get 18 in."

If there's one arm that could get them there, it very well may be Kyle Kendrick.

Kendrick (9-10, 3.83 ERA) is 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA in his past six starts and has his ERA down to 3.83 -- the lowest point it's been all season.

The matchup looks promising for Kendrick, who takes on a pitcher that hasn't recorded a win since June.

Southpaw Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.35 ERA) takes the mound for the Astros, who are 6-7 so far in September.

After earning a complete-game victory against the Indians in his second Major League start back on June 23, Keuchel has gone 0-7 with a 6.35 ERA in his past 11 starts, allowing 66 hits in 56 2/3 innings.

While the numbers may not stack up in the Astros' favor, playing spoiler for the hopeful Phillies has Houston even more motivated.

"We have a chance to beat the Phillies here in the series and that would be a feather in our caps," said interim manager Tony DeFrancesco. "I'm hoping it continues because we have St. Louis coming up, Pittsburgh again and then St. Louis again. I hope we're the team that can spoil it for these guys."

Phillies: Utley takes grounders at third base
Chase Utley continued to test the waters at the hot corner, fielding ground balls at third base again Friday.

Kevin Frandsen has filled in at third down the stretch this season, and Manuel said he doesn't foresee Utley making the switch across the infield -- at least not yet.

"Not right now," Manuel said. "Sooner or later, I'll talk to him and see where he's at."

Manuel has yet to rule out either possibility of Frandsen or Utley at third in the future, but will likely rely on Frandsen to close out the 2012 season.

• The Phillies continue to slowly work Carlos Ruiz back into a regular cycle as he recovers from plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

Ruiz was back in the starting lineup Friday and Manuel said he will likely start Sunday's game as well.

"We'll still have to watch him some," Manuel said. "What he's got, if it's not completely well, if he stays on it a lot, it'll definitely come back."

Astros: DeFrancesco interviews for manager's job
The Astros have made it clear that they're using the tail end of this season to grow and develop their young talent with as much Major League action as possible.

But the up-and-coming players aren't the only ones gaining experience this fall. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco took over for dismissed manager Brad Mills on Aug. 19, and has led the team to a 7-18 record since.

After his first short stint as a Major League manager, Defrancesco sat down for three hours with owner Jim Crane, team president George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow for his interview to possibly keep the job on a full-time basis.

"I thought it went well," DeFrancesco said. "I was very comfortable with them. I left there with some confidence and was happy to even have the opportunity."

DeFrancesco has managed in the Minors for 18 years, holding a 1,235-1,088 record.

"The relaxed nature I have in the dugout, my ability to talk to the players in team meetings and the coaches," he said when asked what qualities he could bring to the club. "Jeff and Jim want a leader, and I'm hoping I can be the guy that can lead these guys. I'm excited to have the chance to even talk about it."

Worth noting

• With Friday's win, the Philllies have not lost consecutive games over their past two weeks of play, beginning Aug. 30. That stretch of 15 games is a season-high.

• The Astros have used 11 rookies this season and currently have the youngest active Major League roster with an average age of 26.2.

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