A lack of offense cost Phillies starter Roy Halladay a fourth straight victory to open the season in his last outing. However, if his club can keep swinging a hot bat tonight like it did to close out its road trip, picking up that fourth victory might not be a problem.
Philadelphia goes for a fourth straight victory in its opener of a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
Halladay won his first three outings while pitching to a 1.17 earned run average. He hurled at least seven innings for the fourth time in as many outings on Saturday in San Diego, but suffered a 5-1 loss after allowing two runs on five hits and a season-high four walks. The right-hander also struck out five.
"He pitched good enough to win the game. He can't throw shutouts every time," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said of Halladay's outing.
The 34-year-old former Cy Young winner is only 1-4 with a 3.72 ERA in five career starts versus the Cubs and hopes that the Phillies' embattled offense has found its grove. Philadelphia scored 20 runs in its three-game series with Arizona, winning the final two contests to wrap a 10-game swing out west 5-5.
The Phillies ended the road trip with Wednesday's 7-2 win. Placido Polanco went 3-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and two runs scored, while Hunter Pence and starter Cole Hamels both drove in two runs. Hamels got back the two runs he allowed over eight strong innings, striking out seven.
"Our starting pitching has been real good to this point. I look at it, we could've had a few more wins," Manuel said. "You see Hamels or Halladay or [Cliff] Lee pitching and they give up two runs, we have to win those games."
Manuel opted to give shortstop Jimmy Rollins the day off on Wednesday after he hit just .091 through the first nine games of the swing. He's likely to return to the lineup tonight.
Philadelphia will be going up against Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm, who allowed 12 runs over eight innings in losing his first starts with Chicago before getting his first win with the club on Saturday. Facing the Reds, Maholm gave up just one run on four hits and three walks over six innings, fanning five.
It was also the 29-year-old's first victory since July 10 of last year, snapping a nine-game winless stretch (0-7).
"I need ground balls and I need to get ahead and execute pitches," Maholm said.
Maholm has faced the Phillies seven times prior, going 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
The Cubs won the first two of their three-game series with the Cardinals to begin the week, losing Wednesday's finale 5-1. Bryan LaHair hit a solo homer and Chris Volstad allowed four runs on six hits in six frames of work.
"We had a tie going into the sixth inning and that's where I needed to keep it," Volstad said of the frame in which the Cardinals scored three times.
Chicago had won three of four prior to the loss following a six-game slide.
The Phillies won five of seven over the Cubs last year, including three of four at home.