Howie Kendrick has not exactly been eased back into the Phillies lineup. The veteran was activated from the disabled list last Monday after landing there April 18 with a right abdominal strain. Since being activated, he has started six consecutive games, including Sunday's 9-7 win over the San Francisco Giants.

In those six games he hit .304 (7 for 23) after going 1 for 3 Sunday with an RBI double.

He said he has had no problems from the injury.

"I wouldn't have come back if I was hurt," Kendrick said over the weekend. "You have to be real to yourself because you can do more damage if you come back ahead of time."

He said that when the Phillies were in Chicago playing the Cubs May 1-4, he thought he was close to returning.

"I had a setback because it got really sore and it was something I didn't expect, but it was my body telling me I wasn't ready," Kendrick said.

Kendrick has been to the playoffs six times, so being on a 19-35 team with the worst record in baseball has been a different experience. He isn't regretting it, however. He was traded this offseason to the Phillies from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney.

"I came from a winning team and I asked to be traded from that team because I wanted to play every day," said Kendrick, who can play multiple positions but has been in left field for the Phillies.

Kendrick, who will turn 34 next month, has enjoyed his role as a mentor to the younger players.

"Coming here in this situation, you have to take the positive out of it," he said. "As far as young guys, hopefully I will be able to help somebody with their career."

He said the key is remaining upbeat and setting a good example.

"You have to use this time as a learning tool and I know it's easy to say that," he said. "At the same time, when times are tough is when you figure out who you really are."

Pivetta to start

The Phillies will begin a four-game series in Atlanta on Monday, and manager Pete Mackanin said after Sunday's win that Nick Pivetta would start the opener.

This is the second time the righthander will be recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley.

He was recalled April 30 and made four starts, going 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA before being optioned to Lehigh Valley on May 18.

This year for the IronPigs he is 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts.

After Sunday's game, the Phillies optioned first baseman-outfielder Brock Stassi to double-A Reading.

"He needs at-bats," Mackanin said of Stassi, who is hitting .197 in 61 at-bats.

Neshek continues strong showing

Reliever Pat Neshek got the win Sunday with a scoreless eighth inning, lowering his ERA to 0.84. This season he has not allowed a run in any of his 13 appearances at Citizens Bank Park, totaling 12 innings.