The depth chart still says Kyle Kendrick is the Phillies' fifth starter, which is why he's pitching in the opener of the team's four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night.

It's also why his job security remains fragile as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. In all likelihood, if general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acquires another starter, Kendrick will no longer be a member of the Phillies' rotation.

That's why the righthander needs to get off to a good start against the Cardinals.

"I want to keep going how I finished, pitching deep into games and giving us a chance to win," Kendrick said. "I want to have quality outings. That's my job."

Since enduring a terrible April during which he went 0-1 with a 7.61 ERA in five starts, Kendrick has really been the third-best pitcher in the Phillies' starting rotation. Since April, he is 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 12 starts. As a team, the Phillies are 8-4 in those 12 starts.

"I think overall as a pitcher, I feel more comfortable and confident when I'm out there on the mound," Kendrick said. "I think that's just about having experience, maturing and learning. I listen and pay attention to stuff, and that helps."

Unlike fellow starters Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton, Kendrick also was a hot pitcher at the all-star break. He pitched his first complete game to beat Pittsburgh in his penultimate first-half outing, then allowed just one run on three hits in 62/3 innings against a good Cincinnati team in his final start.

"I think Kendrick pitched some very good games," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He had some very good games. I think he's still working on his change-up and his cutter, and it is getting better. I think he can really improve on those two pitches - that's what is going to make him a consistent, good starter. His first half was all right."

Kendrick said he does not worry about Amaro's pursuit of another starting pitcher in a trade for one simple reason.

"It's out of my control," he said. "There is nothing I can do except go pitch and get guys out."

One of Kendrick's best starts in the first half was against the Cardinals. In a 4-0 victory May 5 at Citizens Bank Park, he pitched seven shutout innings. Kendrick, in fact, is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four career starts against St. Louis.

A platoon system?

For the second time in as many games against a lefthanded starting pitcher, Ben Francisco got the start instead of Raul Ibanez in left field. Manuel said he's not opposed to playing Ibanez against lefties.

"I just wanted to get Francisco in a game," Manuel said. "Every now and then I have to get Ben in the game if he's going to come off the bench and hit for us, too. And against lefties, to me that's kind of the best time to do it."

Ibanez, a career .267 hitter against lefthanded pitching, is hitting just .217 against them this season. The next time the Phillies face a lefthander is Wednesday, when they go against Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia.

Extra bases

Placido Polanco extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the first inning. It's a streak that started June 17 because of all the time he spent on the disabled list. . . . The four St. Louis starters - Blake Hawksworth, Chris Carpenter, Garcia and Adam Wainwright - scheduled to go against the Phillies this week at Busch Stadium are a combined 35-17 with a 2.77 ERA. The Phillies will counter with four starters - Kendrick, Moyer, Blanton and Cole Hamels - who are a combined 24-24 with a 4.69 ERA.