Rowand returns, will attmept to out-leadership Phillies in three-game series

Aaron Rowand is back in Philly tonight. Hopefully, his return will not spark a whole new round of questioning about whether the Phillies miss his leadership. It was a viable topic in spring training and early in the season. But the ship has sailed. I know the Phils are tired of hearing about it, and right now, the only thing that matters is the line-ups both teams are putting on the field.

Kyle Kendrick is on the hill tonight against Pat Misch.

Shane Victorino is leading off for the second straight night. He has swung the bat well the past couple of days, missing a home run two days ago by a few yards to the left of the left field foul pole, and hitting a double and scoring a run last night. He also made a tremendous play in center field to chase down a long fly ball off the bat of Tadahito Iguchi that probably would have put the go-ahead run on second with no out.

The only change in the line-up has Chris Coste starting in place of Carlos Ruiz. That isn't a surprise. Coste has caught Kendrick all season.

This is the type of series the Phillies would love to sweep. Well, I guess every series is that way. But against a team that is supposed to be one of the worst in the National League, the Phils are in a great position to build on their lead in the National League East. It certainly wouldn't hurt to be 19-13 heading into a huge series at Arizona against the tops-in-the-league Diamondbacks.

Here's a look at tonight's game:

RHP Kyle Kendrick (2-2, 5.13 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Misch (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

ABOUT THE PHILLIES: Since walking a career-high 6 batters and striking out none in an 8-2 loss to the Mets on April 9, Kendrick has struck out nine and walked just 3, including none in a 7 inning performance against the Pirates this past Saturday. . .Kendrick has allowed 4 home runs in his last 3 starts. . .The only Phillie ever to face Misch is Geoff Jenkins, who faced him once last season and grounded out to short stop. . .The Phillies went 15-13 last May after going 11-14 in April. They went 15-12 in April this season. . .Pat Burrell needs 17 more home runs to tie Hall of Famer Chuck Klein for third place on the Phillies all time list with 243. . .Eric Bruntlett has hit safely in nine straight games.

ABOUT THE GIANTS: Misch is making his first start of the season after taking the rotation spot of beleaguered former ace Barry Zito, who was moved to the bullpen. . .Misch as pitched in 20 games over the past three seasons for the Giants, but only four as a starter. He was with Triple A Fresno before he was called up this week. . .LF Fred Lewis leads the Giants in runs (17), hits (31), walks (13) and batting average (.337). . .The Giants enter having won 5 of their last 8 games.

TICKET INFO: The Phillies have sold more than 32,000 tickets for the game. Tickets are available by calling 215-463-1000.