MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Kendrick made it look easy this week.
It was just 11 days ago Phillies manager Charlie Manuel sounded like he might pull Kendrick from the rotation, but after a productive talk, Kendrick remained. He has not disappointed his manager since. He threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday in a victory over Miami and eight scoreless innings Sunday in a 8-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.
"It's been good," Kendrick said. "Just trying to stay the same. That's the main thing. Being who I am, staying the same, pounding the sinker, changeup, mixing in a couple cutters, a couple sliders. Thirty cutters a game is not me. I'm just trying to stay who I am."
The victory completed a 4-3 road trip for the Phillies, who are 19-15 (.559) since the All-Star break and 11-8 (.579) since the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Kendrick wants to finish the season strong to give the front office confidence he can handle a spot in the rotation next season.
Since his talk with Manuel, he has done just that. He allowed three hits, one walk and tied a career high with seven strikeouts Sunday, extending his scoreless streak to 15 consecutive innings. He threw 115 pitches, 80 for strikes. They were the most strikes he has thrown in a game in his career.
"He looks more confident," Manuel said. "He is definitely more aggressive. He did slow the game down quite a bit at times. But it was way better than when they start scoring off him. He has a tendency to back off and really lose control of the game. Today, he kept that."
"He was pretty nasty," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He was executing all his pitches and mixing in a pretty good changeup. When a righty throws a changeup like that, that looks like a fastball, that's tough. You've really got to battle and hope he makes a mistake. He threw well for them and we couldn't bounce back."
But Kendrick also did something Sunday no other Phillies pitcher has been able to accomplish this season: he kept Ryan Braun quiet.
Braun had hit .565 (13-for-23) with two doubles, six home runs, 10 RBIs and a superhuman 2.064 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in six games against the Phils. Of players with 25 or more plate appearances against Philadelphia this season, only Yadier Molina (.588) had a higher batting average. Braun tied Brian McCann for the most home runs against them, despite 13 fewer at-bats. He also ranked third in RBIs behind McCann (17) and David Wright (16). His 1.435 slugging percentage was 435 points better than the second-place Molina. His OPS was 432 points better than Molina's OPS.
Kendrick handled Braun like it was no big thing.
He struck out Braun looking in the first, getting Braun to flip his bat in the air. He got him to fly out to center field in the third and ground out in the sixth, getting him to chuck his helmet into the turf.
"He did good, man," Manuel said. "He got Braun out. He gets a medal for that."
"We just mixed it up," Kendrick said. "[Catcher] Brian [Schneider] called a good game. We just went with my strengths. We got him out on a sinker away [in the first]. The second time was a 1-2 cutter and then a first-pitch changeup. We just tried to keep him off balance. Mix it up a little bit."
The Phillies gave Kendrick some run support, too. Michael Martinez, who gave Chase Utley his first day off in 30 games, hit a two-run home run to left-center field in the second against Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf for a 2-0 lead. After Wolf loaded the bases in the third, Domonic Brown dropped a double down the left-field line to clear the bases and make it 5-0. It was Brown's first extra-base hit in 10 games.
"He had a good day today," Manuel said of Brown, who added an RBI single in the ninth. "He hit some balls, especially the last couple times up, man, he really got through the ball. That's a good sign. That's what experience will do for you. If you stop and think, in his last couple of at-bats, the balls he hit, he had real good balance and his swing was smooth. That's what you look for."
Kendrick took care of the rest.
He had a 22-inning scoreless streak this season to go along with his current 15-inning streak. He made it look so easy this week one wonders why he has such wild swings in his effectiveness.
"We all go through ups and downs," he said. "When it's going bad, you've got to try to minimize the damage and get through it. It's easy when things are going well. You just try to keep it there."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.