The Phils did eke out enough for the victory over the Cubs on Saturday, but they didn't come until the final hour aided by a Chicago defensive meltdown. While their offense tries to find its groove again, the Phillies will have ace Roy Halladay on the hill on Sunday.
Halladay's seven losses this season are more the result of a lack of run support than anything else. In his final two starts before the All-Star break, though, he didn't require much run support. In back-to-back nine-inning efforts, the veteran right-hander allowed one run in a win over Atlanta, followed by a tough no-decision that saw him throw nine innings of shutout baseball against the Reds. The Phillies eventually won that game, but a lack of offense in the early innings prevented Halladay from getting the win despite a stellar effort.
It's not only Halladay who is struggling to find run support. It's part of a more long-term offensive downswing that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows is a real issue for the club.
"We haven't hit for a long time," Manuel said. "We hit spurts where we come out of it. On a given night, we might score some runs, but it seems like we fall right back into it. Inconsistent play. It's what we talk about every day."
Give some credit to the Cubs' starters, who led by Ted Lilly and Randy Wells, have turned in back-to-back strong efforts.
The Phillies' offensive task won't get much easier on Sunday as they face off with Cubs southpaw Tom Gorzelanny, who has been very consistent since returning to the rotation to take Carlos Zambrano's spot. The left-hander finished the first half with a strong start against the Dodgers, allowing just one earned run in six innings of work while striking out seven.
"I felt I was able to pitch the way I wanted to and made my pitches work," Gorzelanny said. "I was able to locate a lot better than the last time out."
If Gorzelanny stays consistent and the Cubs continue to play the way they did in the first few games of the series, there is still time to make a serious run in the National League Central. That fact is not lost on the Cubs, least of all Gorzelanny.
"There's not 10 games left in the season, there's about 70-something," Gorzelanny said after his last start. "There's a chance to make it. We all think we can go out there and win some ballgames and win the division and get a run and have a chance at the postseason."
Phillies: Polanco back at a critical time
The Phillies' offense did get one boost when Placido Polanco was activated from the disabled list Saturday and promptly re-inserted into the lineup. The third baseman -- who missed a significant chunk of time with lingering elbow issues -- went 1-for-5, knocking in the go-ahead single in the ninth inning. Manuel was confident that Polanco's return would help jumpstart the sluggish offense. "It's going to help a whole lot," Manuel said. "It's going to give us a .300 hitter in the top of the order. That's what it's going to do for us."
Cubs: Walks remain Marmol's only problem
Despite his impressive strikeout numbers -- and at 82 in 43 1/3 innings this season, they are impressive -- Marmol has struggled with his control in his career, and the issues reappeared Saturday as he recorded his fourth blown save of the season. The right-hander allowed five walks in just two-thirds of an inning to the Phillies. The walks, combined with a wild pitch, were the Cubs' ultimate undoing. Marmol will need to find a consistent ground between the overpowering strikeout numbers and the unsettling walk totals if the Cubs are to climb back in the hunt.
Wells saw a stellar seven-inning shutout effort get spoiled on Saturday as his club took the loss. Wells' effort did give the Cubs their 58th quality start this season, just ahead of the Rays for tops in the Majors. ... With their comeback win Saturday, the Phillies improved their record to 3-37 when trailing after eight innings.
Sun, 7/18 8:05 PM ET
Cubs write prescription for success vs. Doc
Using the long ball, the Cubs wore out Roy Halladay and padded an already-comfy lead by banging up the Phils' bullpen, too. Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano were the big bashers, and Derrek Lee drove in three.
|Francisco, B, LF||5||1||2||1||0||1||3||.240|
|Valdez, W, 2B||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.250|
|Romero, J, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Castro, S, SS||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.294|
|Lee, D, 1B||5||1||1||3||0||2||5||.238|
|Ramirez, Ar, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.213|
|Soriano, A, LF||4||1||2||3||0||0||1||.272|
|Soto, G, C||4||1||2||3||0||0||0||.286|
|Baker, Je, 2B||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||.246|
2B: Victorino (13, Gorzelanny).
HR: Dobbs (4, 8th inning off Cashner, 0 on, 1 out), Howard (21, 9th inning off Russell, 0 on, 0 out), Francisco, B (2, 9th inning off Russell, 0 on, 1 out).
TB: Howard 4; Victorino 2; Rollins; Francisco, B 5; Dobbs 4; Polanco 2; Ruiz.
RBI: Polanco (29), Howard 2 (73), Dobbs (13), Francisco, B (13).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Halladay; Werth; Francisco, B; Rollins.
Team RISP: 0-for-8.
Team LOB: 11.
SB: Werth (6, 2nd base off Gorzelanny/Soto, G), Rollins 2 (6, 2nd base off Gorzelanny/Soto, G, 3rd base off Cashner/Soto, G).
E: Ruiz (2, throw), Herndon (1, fielding).
Outfield assists: Francisco, B (Soriano, A at 3rd base).
DP: 2 (Valdez, W-Howard, Rollins-Howard).
2B: Lee, D (14, Herndon).
HR: Soto, G (11, 2nd inning off Halladay, 1 on, 1 out), Soriano, A (17, 6th inning off Halladay, 1 on, 1 out).
TB: Colvin 3; Lee, D 2; Soriano, A 5; Baker, Je 2; Gorzelanny; Soto, G 5; Castro, S 3.
RBI: Soto, G 3 (32), Castro, S (25), Soriano, A 3 (50), Lee, D 3 (41).
2-out RBI: Castro, S.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Ramirez, Ar; Lee, D.
SAC: Castro, S.
GIDP: Lee, D 2.
Team RISP: 4-for-9.
Team LOB: 4.
SB: Castro, S (3, 2nd base off Halladay/Ruiz).
E: Ramirez, Ar (11, fielding).
Game Scores: Halladay , Gorzelanny .
HBP: Byrd (by Halladay), Byrd (by Halladay).
Pitches-strikes: Halladay 87-57, Romero, J 8-4, Herndon 23-14, Baez 13-9, Gorzelanny 113-69, Cashner 33-17, Russell 19-13.
Groundouts-flyouts: Halladay 8-5, Romero, J 0-0, Herndon 1-1, Baez 1-0, Gorzelanny 8-4, Cashner 2-0, Russell 0-1.
Batters faced: Halladay 26, Romero, J 2, Herndon 7, Baez 4, Gorzelanny 31, Cashner 8, Russell 5.
Inherited runners-scored: Herndon 2-2, Cashner 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Ed Hickox. 1B: Fieldin Culbreth. 2B: Marty Foster. 3B: Gary Cederstrom.
Weather: 86 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 6 mph, Out to RF.
Venue: Wrigley Field.
July 18, 2010
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media