Making what could be his final start for the Cubs, Lilly tries to help his team to a second straight victory Tuesday night and secure their first series win over the Houston Astros this year.
Chicago (46-54) improved to 7-4 since the break after a 5-2 win over Houston on Monday night. The Cubs, however, are fourth in the NL Central and 9 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis. That deficit might be too much to overcome, thus making a pitcher like Lilly the focus of continued trade rumors prior to Saturday’s deadline.
A 12-game winner and All-Star in 2009, Lilly (3-8, 3.88 ERA) has received little run support this year, but could be an appealing option for a postseason contender looking for a left-handed starter.
“There is a lot of speculation and rumors that are thrown out there,” Lilly said. “From my experience, they don’t necessarily mean something is going to happen.”
The Cubs are averaging a major league-low 2.43 runs per game when Lilly pitches. They scored one for him when he allowed a run and struck out six in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-3, 12-inning loss to Houston on Wednesday. That is the only run in 22 innings Lilly has given up over his last three starts against the Astros.
Lilly is 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts versus Houston, including 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA in his last nine.
Chicago is 4-6 against the Astros (40-59) and lost each of the previous three series between the teams in 2010. The Cubs could again have their hands full against scheduled starter Brett Myers(notes) (7-6, 3.24), who was just as tough as Lilly on Wednesday.
Myers gave up one run and struck out eight in seven innings of Houston’s win at Wrigley Field. He will look to add to his club record Tuesday by trying for a 21st consecutive start of at least six innings to begin a season. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts since losing at Milwaukee on June 29.
Myers is 6-0 with a 2.60 ERA in seven starts against the Cubs since losing at Chicago on May 8, 2005.
Alfonso Soriano(notes) is 5 for 24 with three homers and 11 strikeouts against Myers, but he had two doubles with an RBI on Monday for the Cubs. Derrek Lee(notes) is 12 for 30 in his last seven games versus Houston after doubling in the opener. He is 17 for 34 with four doubles and three home runs against Myers.