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07/15/10 6:43 PM ET

Blanton, Lilly both seek return to form

When the Phillies and Cubs square off Friday, the game will feature a pair of starters trying to turn around their seasons after disappointing first halves.

Since nearly throwing a no-hitter on June 13, Cubs lefty Ted Lilly has struggled to find any consistency. In his five starts since, Lilly is 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA. Lilly finished a season-low 3 2/3 innings in his latest outing on July 9 against the Dodgers, giving up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks.

"I feel healthy, just not happy," Lilly said. "The only thing that doesn't feel good is the way the ball's coming out. There's a few things I need to do to make that happen mechanically. Whatever it is, I need to figure it out."

Lilly is a free agent at the end of the season and has become a topic of trade rumors, linked to such suitors as the Mets. Though his 3-8 record isn't pretty, keep in mind that Lilly has received an average of 2.73 runs of support this season.

"I've got my hands full just getting guys out," Lilly said of the rumors. "I'm busy doing that. I've got to go out and get hitters out regardless of anything else that's going on around me, and that's it."

Since missing the first month of the season with a strained left oblique muscle, Philadelphia right-hander Joe Blanton has still served as an innings-eater, but not much else. Entering Friday, Blanton's 6.41 ERA would rank as the top figure in the National League if he had enough innings to qualify.

In all 13 of his starts this season, Blanton has given up at least three earned runs. In his latest outing on July 9 against the Reds, Blanton was knocked around for 12 hits and six runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings, but was bailed out by a furious six-run rally in the ninth before Ryan Howard hit a walk-off shot in the 10th.

If history is any indicator, Blanton should serve as a reliable option for the Phillies down the stretch. Blanton went 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break last season, while going 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 post-break starts in 2008.

Cubs: Zambrano resumes workouts
Carlos Zambrano threw a 25-pitch side session on Thursday at the team's Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz. There is no set date for Zambrano's return to Chicago's bullpen, though Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Zambrano will work out individually until being assigned somewhere next week.

Phillies: Extra rest for Halladay
Ace Roy Halladay won't be making his initial second-half start until Sunday's series finale. "He's pitched a lot," manager Charlie Manuel said. "If you give him a one-turn blow, he'll probably make that up on the off-days as we go down the line."

Worth noting
Listening to Hendry, it doesn't appear the Cubs will be buyers as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches. "When you're [9 1/2] back," Hendry said, "you don't look to add guys with big salaries or guys who might get you over the hump even if they're short-term guys."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.