Philadelphia (73-60) at Chicago (83-50)

Showers Currently: Chicago, IL, US
Temp: 47° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu Aug 28, 2008
  • TV: CSN, WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

One of baseball’s most historic ballparks will be the first to help usher in a new technological era for major league baseball.

Instant replay makes its debut Thursday night, starting at Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs face the Philadelphia Phillies to open a four-game series between playoff contenders.

After baseball general managers voted to recommend the use of such technology in November, replay will be used at Wrigley, then later in the evening when the Los Angeles Angels host Texas and Minnesota visits Oakland. Replay will be available to umpires for all games starting Friday

Replays will be used to determine potential home runs - whether balls went over the fence, were fair or foul or if there was fan interference. Only the umpires’ crew chief can request to see a replay.

“I believe that because of the configuration of ballparks, both new and old, that calling home runs is really much more difficult than it once was,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “I don’t believe in the use of instant replay for other things.”

Chicago manager Lou Piniella, whose team owns a major league-best 83-50 record, may need time to warm up to the idea, especially since managers will be unable to request a review.

“This is not going to work,” Piniella said. “I shouldn’t say it’s not going to work, but this could turn into a little bit of a fiasco initially.”

Piniella and the Cubs try for a sixth consecutive victory after beating Pittsburgh 2-0 on Wednesday to sweep the Pirates and win their ninth straight series.

Chicago, owner of a six-game lead in the NL Central, plays 26 of its last 29 games against teams currently above .500.

Despite having its five-game winning streak snapped with a 6-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, Philadelphia (73-60) has won nine of 12. The Phillies took two of three from the Cubs from April 11-13.

“Our schedule gets tough,” Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this team, but I’ll tell you what, we’re going to be tested.”

Alfonso Soriano and Mark DeRosa each had two hits Wednesday as Chicago scored runs on a ground out and squeeze play in the seventh inning.

DeRosa is batting .441 (15-for-34) with four homers and seven RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak, while Soriano went 8-for-15 in the Pirates series.

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (15-5, 2.85 ERA) looks to set a career high in wins and record his fourth straight victory. He allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings of a 9-2 win over Washington on Saturday to improve to 12-2 at Wrigley.

The right-hander is 3-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 12 career starts versus Philadelphia.

The Phillies counter with Cole Hamels (11-8, 3.20), who looks for a third straight victory after giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 9-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

“Cole’s been pitching outstanding all year,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. “Every game we feel like we have a great chance to win when he pitches.”

The left-hander, who has a 1.80 ERA while winning his last two starts, is 3-1 with a 3.00 lifetime ERA versus the Cubs. He allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings of a 7-1 win over Chicago on April 12.

Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard hit his second two-run homer in as many nights Wednesday for the Phillies, who dropped one-half game back of the NL East-leading Mets with the defeat.

Howard has just two homers in 73 career at-bats against the Cubs. Utley, meanwhile, is 5-for-14 with two doubles and a triple in the 2008 season series.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Hamels TEX vs. R. Dempster CHC
14-10 Record 17-6
3.09 ERA 2.96
196 K 187
53 BB 76
1.08 WHIP 1.21