Struggling clubs clash in south Philly
Following a much-needed off day for both clubs, the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies open up a three-game series on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Cubs head to Philadelphia following a 1-7 homestand and sit 13 games under .500, while the Phillies are 11 games under the even mark thanks to losses in 13 of their past 14 games.
The Phillies dropped their fifth straight game on Sunday as the Atlanta Braves finished off a three-game sweep with a 4-1 win. The Braves extended their edge over the third-place Phillies to 17 games in the NL East with Monday's win over Washington.
It marks the first time that Philly has lost 13 of 14 since Aug.28-Sept. 14, 1999, though Darin Ruf provided a bright spot by extending his string of reaching base safely to 32 straight games dating back to last season. That is the longest run for the club since Chase Utley's 33-game span from Sept. 7, 2008-April 22, 2009.
The Phillies are also expected to have outfielder Domonic Brown in the lineup after activating the All-Star from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Tuesday. Brown is hitting .271 with 24 homers and 69 RBI in 99 games this season and had three hits, one a homer, in a rehab game with Class-A Lakewood on Monday.
But, the bullpen will be without left-hander Antonio Bastardo, who on Monday was suspended for 50 games for his role in the Biogenesis case. Bastardo was 3-2 with a 2.32 earned run average in 48 appearances for a bullpen that ranks 28th in baseball with a 4.29 ERA.
"Obviously, the Phillies are very disappointed to learn of Antonio Bastardo's violation of Major League Baseball's Drug Program," said Philadelphia president David Montgomery in a statement. "We strongly believe in the Program and look forward to a time when performance enhancing drugs are completely out of baseball. Hopefully the sanctions announced (Monday) will bring us closer to that day. We respect the fact that Antonio has acknowledged his serious mistake and accepted his 50-game suspension."
The Cubs hope to take advantage of the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen and get their offense on track. They went just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and were shut out three times on their homestand. That includes the final two games of their four-game set versus Los Angeles as Chicago has not plated a run over its last 23 innings.
Edwin Jackson has been immune to Chicago's recent struggles and he looks to extend his recent run of success on Tuesday night.
The right-hander recorded the lone victory on the Cubs' homestand and is 4-1 over his past six outings with a 2.23 ERA. He was just 3-10 with a 5.84 ERA on the season before that stretch.
Jackson concluded an excellent July with a win over Milwaukee last Wednesday. The 29-year-old held the Brewers to a run on eight hits over eight innings, striking out four without a walk.
"It was a combination of everything," Jackson said of the victory. "We had great defensive plays all around from pretty much every position."
Jackson is now 7-11 with a 4.65 ERA in 21 starts this season and will be eyeing just his second career win over the Phillies. He is 1-4 against them with a 4.45 ERA in five previous meetings.
While the Cubs hurler is on a roll, Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick has struggled over his last six outings and is coming off a rough loss to the San Francisco Giants last Wednesday.
Kendrick was charged with seven runs -- six earned -- on eight hits and a walk over just two-plus innings of a 9-2 defeat. He is 2-4 with a 7.11 ERA over his last six starts and 9-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 22 appearances this season.
"Everything they hit fell," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "(Kendrick) just had one of those games where things definitely didn't go his way."
The 28-year-old has never beaten the Cubs despite a 1.69 ERA in four previous encounters, all but one of those starts. He is 0-1 against them.
The Phillies have won nine of their past 12 versus the Cubs, splitting a four- game set at home against them last year.