PHILADELPHIA -- Michael McKenry has certainly taken advantage of his opportunity for more playing time the past few days.
With starter Rod Barajas banged up with a bone bruise in his left knee, McKenry got his second consecutive start on Wednesday for the first time this season. He went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead three-run home run, a career-high four RBIs and a walk in an 11-7 win over the Phillies.
Through three games of the four-game series at Citizens Bank Park, McKenry is 7-for-11 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs. Before Monday, McKenry did not have a multi-hit game, though he had started just 21 times.
Manager Clint Hurdle praised McKenry for his hard work.
"That's the beauty of this game. Certain guys show up at certain times, you never know when," Hurdle said after the win. "Nobody's talking about him and now everybody's talking about him."
McKenry, who entered Wednesday's game hitting .224 with four home runs and eight RBIs on the season, said he's been working on relaxing at the plate.
"I think for the longest time, especially since I've been here and even prior to being here, I've put the weight of the world on my shoulders," he said before Wednesday's game. "I was trying to do too much and not allowing my ability to come out. And that's what I've been working on, just trying to allow it to play out. Just get in a position where I can get the barrel of the ball with a smooth easy stroke instead of pressing, trying to hit the ball as hard as possible very single time. Just trying to keep it easy, keep it fun and keep it simple."
The opposing team's catcher has also been swinging a hot bat this series, but that's nothing new as far as this season goes. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who is 10-for-15 against the Pirates this season, entered Wednesday leading Major League Baseball with a .361 average.
McKenry said when he was going through the Draft process in 2006, many compared him to Ruiz for their similarities in height. Both are listed at 5-foot-10. That being said, McKenry said it's "awesome for me to see" Ruiz having this kind of success.
"I've always respected Ruiz, the way he handles a pitching staff, the way he catches," McKenry said. "He plays hard every single day no matter if he's having success or failure. It's awesome to see. It's not fun trying to get him out right now, but we're gonna figure it out. It's a special thing that's going on with him."