Struggling Cubs Welcome Struggling Phils To Town

The Phillies road trip continues with a three-game series against the Cubs at the not so friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The Phillies have failed to win four of their last six series and seem destined for mediocrity this season. The Cubs have not been that great either, but have managed to stay within shouting distance in the NL Central Division race. The Cubs and Phillies have had some played some great games through the years and this will prove to be a series to watch, that's for sure.

Ryan Howard makes his first trip to one of the more hitter friendly ballparks on the Major League circuit this weekend when the Phillies travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs. Chase Utley has proven that he belongs in the lineup by hitting four home runs and driving in 10 runs, capped off by a .322 batting average to start the season. If Utley, Howard, Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins can be successful at the plate, then good things will happen during the Phillies trip to Chi-Town. However, it is apparent with this club that nothing ever seems to go quite as planned.

In the series opener on Friday night, Corey Lidle (2-2) will be on the mound against Glendon Rusch (2-0). Lidle has pitched just 27 innings in five starts and looks to have a long outing, in an effort to save the arms of the battered bullpen that is limping after the series at Shea Stadium earlier this week. Lidle is coming off a win against the Marlins in his last start and looks to carry that momentum into his start against the Cubs. Rusch is making his first start of the season, in place of injured Kerry Wood, but has been solid out of the bullpen. He has notched an ERA of just 2.35 to go along with his 11 strikeouts and perfect record. This game easily represents the Phillies best chance to light up the scoreboard in this series.

The second game of the series pits Jon Lieber (4-1) against Cubs phenom Mark Prior (3-1). Both pitchers have been headliners of their respective clubs; especially their pitching staffs this season. Lieber came out on the short end of a 3-1 Phillies loss in his last start, despite pitching six solid innings and only giving up three runs. Lieber will be facing one of his former teams in the Cubs and looks to notch his fifth win of the season in this match up. Prior has struck out 29 in just 24 innings of work and has notched an ERA of 3.75 to begin the season. Prior is aiming to stay healthy throughout an entire season for the first time in two years and has been on track to this point. This game has pitchers duel written all over it.

The series will come to a close on Sunday when Brett Myers (2-1) takes on Carlos Zambrano (2-1). Zambrano has been the Cubs most consitant pitcher over the past three years. His fastball and overwhelming breaking stuff have baffled hitters in the past couple of seasons. Myers is finally coming into his own this season and is looking for the run support needed to improve his record to match the quality starts he has posted this season. Myers' 44 strikeouts put him fifth place this season among starting pitchers. Myers looks to further climb that ladder this weekend.

Prediction: The Phillies offense has yet to show itself as anything positive this season. Philadelphia's top two pitchers, Lieber and Myers have been gangbusters thus far, but they haven't received the run support they need to notch victories in all of their starts. This series won't be any different. The Phillies will fall to the Cubs in two out of three games.


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