That hasn’t been a problem for the defending World Series champions.
With the red-hot Cliff Lee(notes) taking the mound in Thursday afternoon’s finale, the Phillies seek their first sweep at Wrigley in 25 years as they try to send the scuffling Cubs to their seventh loss in eight games.
Philadelphia (63-48) came to Chicago on a three-game skid and with losses in eight of 11 games, but the Phillies have managed to get things turned around against the Cubs (58-54).
The Phillies, who haven’t swept a series at Wrigley of at least three games since a four-game sweep June 14-17, 1984, signed Martinez on July 15 after the three-time Cy Young Award winner started the season recovering from a strained right shoulder.
He wasn’t the only Cy Young Award winner added to Philadelphia’s roster in an attempt to repeat as World Series champs.
The Phillies acquired Lee (2-0, 1.13 ERA) from Cleveland for four minor leaguers July 29, and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has been outstanding with his new club.
After giving up one run and four hits in a complete-game 5-1 victory at San Francisco in his Phillies debut July 31, Lee allowed one run and six hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 3-1 win over Colorado last Thursday. Including his final three outings with the Indians, the left-hander has posted a 1.32 ERA in winning his last five starts.
“He keeps good composure on the mound,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He gets the ball and he throws it. He gets in good rhythm. Guys behind him like it and everyone watching likes it.”
This will be Lee’s second visit to Wrigley this season after up giving three runs and six hits in seven innings of an 8-7, 10-inning loss for Cleveland on June 19.
Chicago has lost four in a row and is trying to get back in the playoff picture after being atop the NL Central just over a week ago.
The Cubs were percentage points ahead of St. Louis on Aug. 4 but have lost six of seven to drop four games back of the first-place Cardinals. They also trail the wild-card leading Rockies by four.
Chicago’s offense has had plenty of opportunities during the skid but has left 44 runners on base.
Dempster threw six innings to earn a 6-5 win over Colorado on Saturday - his first since July 2 - but it was hardly a thing of beauty. The right-hander allowed five runs - two earned - and nine hits while throwing a wild pitch and failing to cover first in time on a potential double play.
It was Dempster’s third start since spending three weeks on the disabled list in July with a fractured right big toe.