Cubs-Phillies Preview


Roy Halladay didn't get any run support in his last start, but his Philadelphia Phillies teammates may be on the verge of putting their slow start at the plate behind them.

That would be good news for Halladay as he prepares to face the Chicago Cubs, against whom he's compiled his worst record versus any team.

Halladay looks to lead Philadelphia to a third straight win in the opener of a four-game series with the Cubs on Friday night.

After the Phillies (9-10) totaled 12 runs for him in his previous two starts, Halladay (3-1, 1.50 ERA) couldn't overcome a lack of support Saturday in a 5-1 defeat to San Diego. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, but couldn't win a fourth straight start to open the season.

Halladay walked four, doubling his season total, and walked three straight batters for the first time in his career.

"He's human," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's all part of it. Stuff like that's going to happen. He pitched good enough to win a game. He can't throw shutouts all the time."

That's been apparent in his matchups with Chicago, as the right-hander has gone 1-4 with a 3.72 ERA in five starts. Halladay suffered a 6-1 loss in his last game against the Cubs on July 18, one in which he departed after four innings due to the extreme heat at Wrigley Field after allowing three runs.

Halladay, though, was his dominant self in his last home start versus Chicago on June 10, pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out nine with no walks in a 7-5 victory.

After a sputtering offensive start to the season, Philadelphia has shown signs in the last three games that it may be ready to break out, scoring 20 runs after totaling 10 in the previous six. The Phillies are still among the lowest-scoring teams in the majors with 3.3 runs per contest.

"We have some really good hitters," left-hander Cole Hamels said after earning a 7-2 victory over Arizona on Wednesday. "They just haven't been able to square it up."

That hasn't been the case in Philadelphia's last six games in this series, as the club has scored 32 runs and hit six homers while winning five times.

The Phillies will try to keep rolling as they return home after a 10-game trip to face Paul Maholm (1-2, 8.36). After two poor outings to start the season, the left-hander pitched six innings of one-run ball to beat Cincinnati 6-1 on Saturday.

Maholm has had wildly varying results versus Philadelphia. He's made four starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed one or no runs, while giving up at least six runs in his three other matchups.

The Cubs (6-13) failed to win a third straight for the first time this season Wednesday, falling 5-1 to St. Louis as they were unable to complete a sweep. Chicago is batting .235 and averaging 3.5 runs.

"They have a (2.88) ERA as a team," manager Dale Sveum told the Cubs' official website about this series. "It's going to be tough to score runs and put things together."

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has batted .415 in 13 career games against Philadelphia, and he's 5 for 9 off Halladay.

Castro's Phillies counterpart, Jimmy Rollins, has gone 7 for 19 with three home runs during a four-game hitting streak in the series.

Philadelphia right fielder Hunter Pence is batting .318 with two homers, four doubles and a triple off Maholm.