Cubs-Phillies Preview


An inconsistent offense continues to plague the Philadelphia Phillies, but Joe Blanton might not need too much help from his teammates if he can duplicate the effort from his only home start this season.

Blanton will try to avoid losing a third consecutive start with another strong outing at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night against the Chicago Cubs.

Philadelphia (9-11) had generated 20 runs over its three previous games before the opener of a four-game series against the Cubs (7-13), but Ty Wigginton's solo homer accounted for the only run in a 5-1 loss Friday.

"We need to look at the positives at things we did (in the previous games) and try and continue to do that and do it as consistently as we can," starter Roy Halladay said. "It's just a matter of trying to build on the positives. We need to start doing it as soon as possible."

Philadelphia has scored two runs or fewer 11 times this season, and now looks to Blanton (1-3, 4.34 ERA) to help avoid its fifth losing streak in April.

The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA on the road, but allowed one run and three hits over seven innings in his only home start, a 3-1 win over Miami on April 12.

Blanton has been solid in his career against the Cubs but has nothing to show for it. He has no record in four matchups despite allowing three runs or fewer in each and lasting seven innings in the past three.

The Cubs, winners in four of six, will counter with Randy Wells (0-0, 3.60), who struggled with his command during his season debut after being called up from Triple-A Iowa last weekend to replace an injured Ryan Dempster.

"It's good to be back up," Wells told the team's official website. "Hopefully I can pitch better the next time out and we'll see what happens."

The right-hander allowed two runs over five innings during a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday but also walked five and threw only 52 of his 93 pitches for strikes.

"He got some big outs when he had to," manager Dale Sveum said. "He made some pitches and did a good job for five innings and did a good job getting out of some jams."

Wells has no record and a 2.89 ERA in two career starts against Philadelphia but lasted only 2 1-3 innings at Citizens Bank Park on June 9, giving up a three-run homer to Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies shortstop, 1 for 5 against Wells and a career .224 hitter versus the Cubs, is 3 for 37 over his last 11 games. Wigginton, meanwhile, is on a 12-game hitting streak.

The infielder, who has never faced Wells, is a .217 hitter in 46 career games against the Cubs.

Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro, who had two hits and drove in a run Friday, is 3 for 6 versus Blanton. Castro is also a career .421 hitter against Philadelphia, his highest average against any team.