PHILADELPHIA— Kyle Kendrick isn't just the bargain of the Philadelphia Phillies' star-studded staff, he's become the ace.
Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown hit solo homers to back Kendrick and the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins 7-2 Thursday night.
Kendrick (3-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings to earn his ninth straight win against the Marlins, dating to May 28, 2010.
"He did a good job," manager Charlie Manuel said. "They hit some balls hard, but he made pitches when he had to."
Kendrick followed up a three-hitter against the New York Mets with his fifth consecutive solid start. He's outpitched Philadelphia's three aces — Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee so far. While they have three Cy Young Awards, a World Series MVP Award and 14 All-Star appearances on their resumes, Kendrick has never won more than 11 games in a season.
But Kendrick has a 2.43 ERA this season and the Phillies are 4-2 in his starts. Hamels, Halladay and Lee are a combined 5-8 with a 4.85 ERA, and the Phillies are 5-13 in their starts.
"I've always kind of expected this," Kendrick said. "It hasn't always been there. Hopefully now I can be consistent every time out. I feel comfortable and confident I can do that."
Kendrick is making $4.5 million this year. Hamels, Halladay and Lee will earn a total of $64.5 million.
He's not just a one-year wonder, either.
Kendrick is 10-5 since returning to the rotation last August.
"In the last two years, he's had a harder workout routine," Manuel said. "He's stronger in the core, his sinker is better velocity-wise and he's improved his command."
Justin Ruggiano hit a solo shot for Miami. Alex Sanabia (2-4) gave up four runs — two earned — and six hits in five innings.
Howard gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the fourth when he hit a towering, opposite-field drive that just cleared the left field wall. That temporarily gave him more homers (four) than walks (three). He then got an intentional pass in the fifth and drew another walk in the eighth, his first multiwalk game since Sept. 1 against Atlanta.
Brown lined a shot over the right field fence to tie it at 1 in the second. He had an RBI single in the eighth and finished 3 for 4, his fifth multihit game in the last eight. He's 12 for 31 with two homers and seven RBIs in that span.
"He's got the talent to be a good hitter," Manuel said. "He can not only be a high average hitter, but a power hitter, too."
A pair of unearned runs in the fifth helped the Phillies take a 4-1 lead. Chase Utley drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Jimmy Rollins scored on a passed ball after reaching on a fielding error by second baseman Donovan Solano.
Juan Pierre walked to start the game and went to second on Solano's single. Pierre swiped third base for his 600th career steal and scored when Placido Polanco grounded into a double play.
"It feels good to be mentioned with guys like that," Pierre said after becoming the eighth player since 1920 to have 1,000 runs, 2,000 hits and 600 steals. "But I really don't feel like I should be mentioned with those guys. It's nice to have played all this time and accomplished something."
Ruggiano hit one out to straightaway center leading off the sixth, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Notes: Kendrick is 11-3 overall vs. the Marlins. ... The Phillies are 8-3 behind Kendrick, John Lannan and Jonathan Pettibone. ... Phillies CF Ben Revere wasn't in the lineup because of a swollen right ring finger. ... Delmon Young started his first game in right field for the Phillies after DH'ing in Cleveland in his first two games of the season. ... Adeiny Hechavarria was activated from the 15-day disabled list and tripled in the fourth. ... The Marlins called up OF Matt Diaz from triple-A New Orleans. Nick Green was designated for assignment and LHP Brad Hand was optioned to New Orleans. ... Pierre is the ninth-fastest player to reach 600 steals, doing it in 1,907 games. ... Ricky Nolasco (2-2, 3.82) faces Jonathan Pettibone (1-0, 4.35) on Friday night. Nolasco is 8-5 vs. Philadelphia.