National League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 28th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Cubs (7-13) at Philadelphia Phillies (9-11), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Randy Wells (0-0, 3.60) Philadelphia - Joe Blanton (1-3, 4.34)
(Sports Network) - The Cubs haven't won a series in Philadelphia in more than a decade, but after Friday night they're off to a good start against a team that went back to their struggling ways offensively.
Randy Wells hopes to follow in the footsteps of Paul Maholm and again hold down the five-time defending National League East champions as the teams battle in the second installment of a four-game series.
The Phillies have been in an offensive funk all season and lately the slump has fallen on the shoulders of shortstop Jimmy Rollins. He's mired in a 3-for-37 slump. That includes a hitless effort in a 5-1 loss last night.
Wells is taking Ryan Dempster's spot in the rotation. Dempster is on the 15- day disabled list with a right quad strain. Wells, a 29-year-old right-hander, didn't get a decision in his first appearance of the season, a five-inning start against the Reds on Sunday. He doesn't have a decision over two starts against the Phillies.
In Friday's game, Maholm gave up five hits, the last being a one-out home run in the seventh inning to the final batter he faced, Philadelphia first baseman Ty Wigginton.
The Chicago left-hander said the keys to the game were "keeping the ball down, mixing speeds, staying away and coming in when I had to."
Maholm has given up just two runs over his last two starts, totaling 12 1/3 innings. He was tagged for 12 runs and 12 hits in his first two outings this season.
"The command on his fastball was the biggest thing again," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Sometimes he loses sight of it. He's really a sinkerball pitcher. That's what he is. He used it. When he needed his curveball, he had it."
Roy Halladay lost his second straight start after allowing a season-high three runs on six hits in seven frames.
"I felt like we made good pitches the whole night, they were scrappy," Halladay said. "They obviously have some speed and they were able to capitalize on it."
Starlin Castro had two hits and knocked in a run for Chicago, which has won four of its last six games.
Placido Polanco matched Wigginton with two hits for the Phillies, who returned home after a 5-5 road trip.
Joe Blanton, who has lost his last two starts, gets the ball for the Phillies. He's given up 18 hits and seven earned runs, covering 11 innings, over those two outings - road losses to the Padres and Giants. Blanton is 0-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts vs. the Cubs.
The Phillies have an all-time record of 16-9 against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, which includes a series record of 7-0-1. The last time the Phillies lost a series against the Cubs in Philadelphia was April 6-8, 2001 at Veterans Stadium. Since 2002, the Phils are 20-11 vs. the Cubs at home (8-0-2 in series).
04/28 10:34:18 ET