It seems likely both teams will have to rely on their relievers Sunday when the Cubs try to pull off a series win over the Phillies and finish August without losing back-to-back games.
While Chicago (85-51) will start Carlos Zambrano, who is pitching through a ‘tired’ arm, 45-year-old Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer has not lasted past seven innings in 13 straight starts and is coming off his shortest outing since 2005.
That means Philadelphia (74-62) is likely to turn to its bullpen Sunday, and that had been a shaky proposition this week.
No relief corps in the NL has a lower ERA (3.22) than the Phillies, but that group was saddled with the loss in three consecutive games heading into Saturday. Philadelphia’s bullpen allowed 10 runs and 12 hits - four were homers - in 7 1-3 innings during that skid.
“It’s one of those situations where you’re trying to do your best and you come in against a lot of good hitters,” said Romero, who has held left-handed batters to a .103 average this season.
Lidge bounced back after giving up two runs and recording only one out in his previous appearance on Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to the New York Mets.
The Cubs’ bullpen surrendered two runs and four hits, including two homers, in 2 1-3 innings after throwing nine scoreless innings over the previous three games. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak by Chicago, which has not lost consecutive contests since dropping two straight to Florida from July 25-26.
The Cubs are 25-7 since that pair of defeats, but Zambrano (13-5, 3.53 ERA) only has two of those victories.
Chicago’s ace gave up six runs, eight hits and four walks in a 14-9 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He was knocked out in the fifth inning for the second time in four starts, a stretch during which he has an 8.72 ERA with 14 walks while opponents have hit .304 against him.
“He doesn’t have a sore arm and he doesn’t have a dead arm. He might have a little bit of a tired arm. It’s muscular,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Zambrano lost at Philadelphia on April 11, giving up five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-3 defeat. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts versus the Phillies, but in three starts against them at Wrigley Field, he’s 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA.
Moyer (11-7, 3.81), meanwhile, looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season. He lasted three innings and gave up six runs to tie a season high in an 8-7, 13-inning win over the Mets on Tuesday. Moyer had allowed three runs or fewer in each of his previous 14 starts.
However, his latest outing came in Philadelphia. He’s 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four road starts.
Moyer, who broke into the majors with Chicago in 1986, is 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in five lifetime starts against his former team.
Saturday’s game featured Ryan Howard’s league-leading 37th homer, but Jayson Werth was the star offensively for Philadelphia with two homers and four RBIs. Werth is 10-for-20 with seven walks in his last six games, and he’s hit .522 (12-for-23) with five doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in his last six games versus the Cubs.
Aramis Ramirez had another RBI for Chicago on Saturday to reach 100 for the season. He has driven in 16 runs over his last eight games, but he’s 0-for-7 lifetime against Moyer.