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National League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, August 8th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Cubs (49-63) at Philadelphia Phillies (51-61), 1:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Jeff Samardzija (6-10, 3.78) Philadelphia - Ethan Martin (0-1, 12.46)
(Sports Network) - It appears that second baseman Chase Utley will end his career as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. But first he will try to help the Phillies win a series, as they play the rubber match of their three- game set with the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.
Utley, who could have been a free agent at season's end, has reportedly agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Phillies that will pay him around $27 million. The deal also includes vesting options for more years.
"I love Philadelphia," said Utley, who declined to address the extension in specifics. "I've always envisioned playing here. I've never envisioned playing anywhere else."
Utley couldn't help the Phillies on Wednesday, as Donnie Murphy's three-run homer in the ninth inning lifted Chicago to a 5-2 win.
With two on and two out in the ninth, Murphy clubbed a homer off Justin De Fratus to deep left field, capping a 3-for-3, four-RBI performance, which also included an early solo homer. Junior Lake had two hits and an RBI for the Cubs, who snapped a five-game skid.
"I knew he didn't want to put another guy one, I knew I had an advantage after facing him last night and he just gave me a good pitch to hit," said Murphy.
Pedro Strop (2-1) tossed a scoreless eighth to get the win and Kevin Gregg spun a perfect ninth frame to nail down his 23rd save of the season.
Luis Garcia (0-1) was charged with the loss after putting two runners on in the ninth inning,
"We have guys in that bullpen that are going to be good, we just don't know who they are right now," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
Getting the call for the Cubs on Thursday will be righty Jeff Samardzija, who is 6-10 with a 3.78 ERA. Samardzija lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, as he allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.
"Like I said before, the fastball command (wasn't there), throwing strikes to get ahead, and he couldn't do it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He battled and got the outs and kept the game close, but obviously the pitch count after six innings, 110 pitches or whatever it was, is way too many."
Samardzija is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA against the Phillies in seven games. However, just one of those assignments has been a start.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, will turn to righty Ethan Martin, who will be making his second big league start. Martin was banged around by the Atlanta Braves in his debut on Friday to the tune of six runs and eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
"It was tough," Martin said after the Phillies' 6-4 loss. "It was a challenge, but I wanted to go out there and prove I could do it. But first time up and being in front of all the fans, coming out, especially out of the dugout to warm up, it's like, 'Wow.'"
The Phillies have won 10 of their past 14 versus the Cubs, splitting a four- game set at home against them last year.
08/08 10:21:26 ET