Cubs-Phillies Preview

Thanks to a power surge from journeyman infielder Donnie Murphy,
the Chicago Cubs are in position to win their first series at
Philadelphia in 12 seasons.

Looking to continue his recent road success, Jeff Samardzija
also tries to help the Cubs take this three-game set Thursday.

Playing for his fifth team in eight seasons, Murphy went 3 for 3
with two homers and four RBIs in a 5-2 victory Wednesday. His
three-run, tiebreaking shot in the ninth inning helped the Cubs
(50-63) snap a five-game slide.

Chicago took two of three at Veterans Stadium from April 6-8,
2001, for its last winning series at Philadelphia.

Murphy, who hit .222 with eight homers in 117 games over the
past three seasons for Miami, is 4 for 9 with three home runs and
seven RBIs since making his Cubs debut Sunday.

“Don’t get used to that,” he said. “I’m just going through a
good stretch right now and getting pitches I can handle.”

Samardzija (6-10, 3.78 ERA) started 1-5 with a 3.49 ERA on the
road but is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last five away from Wrigley
Field. He’s received an average of 5.30 runs of support during that
stretch but none in his last two overall – both at home.

The right-hander allowed three runs, struck out nine and matched
a season high with five walks while throwing 112 pitches in
Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“He battled and got the outs and kept the game close, but
obviously the pitch count after six innings was way too many,”
manager Dale Sveum said of Samardzija, who is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA
and has walked 15 in his last four starts.

Samardzija last faced the Phillies (51-62) out of the bullpen in
2011. His only start against them came two seasons earlier when he
gave up seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-5 loss.

Chase Utley is 1 for 7 with three strikeouts against him but
could face Samardzija a much richer man after agreeing to a
two-year contract extension reportedly worth around $27
million.

“I love Philadelphia,” said Utley, who turns 35 in December.
“I’ve always envisioned playing here. I’ve never envisioned playing
anywhere else.”

Utley delivered a pinch-hit, tying single in the seventh
Wednesday, but Philadelphia stranded nine runners while losing for
the 14th time in 16 games.

Domonic Brown homered in his second game since coming off the
7-day disabled list with a concussion. The All-Star outfielder has
a team-leading 25 homers but has gone deep twice while hitting .208
during his last 13 games.

Philadelphia’s Ethan Martin hopes for a better effort in the
finale than during his major league debut Friday when he gave up
five of his six runs in the fifth inning of a 6-4 loss to
Atlanta.

“It was tough,” the right-hander told the Phillies’ official
website. “It was a challenge, but I wanted to go out there and
prove I could do it.

“I take what I learn from this and go on to the next one.”