Cubs-Phillies Preview

Though Cole Hamels isn’t having his best season by any means,
the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been providing him much run
support.

The Chicago Cubs’ offense hasn’t given Travis Wood much help
either, though neither team had trouble scoring in the series
opener.

Hamels opposes Wood on Wednesday night as the Phillies look to
beat the visiting Cubs for the fifth straight time.

Philadelphia (51-61) entered its last contest having dropped 13
of 14 while ranking 27th in the majors in runs scored. It took only
four pitches for the Phillies to score their first run Tuesday,
though, as Chase Utley’s RBI single drove in Michael Young on the
way to a 9-8 victory over Chicago.

Utley, Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown, activated from the seven-day
concussion list before the game, each drove in two runs. Ruf
homered and extended his on-base streak to 33 games, and Carlos
Ruiz also added a solo shot.

”It’s nice to have a month of success right now,” Ruf said of
his streak.

Hamels (4-13, 3.87 ERA) hopes the offensive surge continues
while he’s on the mound, as he ranks tied for 88th out of the 95
qualified pitchers with a 3.26 run-support average. That’s just
ahead of the 3.25 mark of Wood, who is 90th.

The Phillies had trouble offensively Thursday and fell to San
Francisco 2-1, but Hamels brought his ERA under 4.00 for the first
time this season by tossing eight scoreless innings. He was in line
for the win before closer Jonathan Papelbon, who also allowed three
runs in the ninth Tuesday, gave up both runs in the final
frame.

“I need to go out and win and try to be the best pitcher I can
every five days,” said the left-hander, who is 2-2 with a 2.09 ERA
in his last six starts.

Hamels has mostly been at his best versus the Cubs going 3-0
with a 1.25 ERA in his last five outings, but he hasn’t faced them
since 2010. Nate Schierholtz is 5 for 10 with two doubles lifetime
off Hamels.

Wood (7-8, 3.05), meanwhile, saw his ERA rise above 3.00 for the
first time all season after he gave up five runs with five walks
over a season-low 3 1-3 innings in Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Los
Angeles Dodgers.

“It obviously took four months for something like that to
happen,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Not too many starters will go
through a whole season without having a little hiccup.”

The left-hander had one of the best starts of his career against
the Phillies while with Cincinnati on July 10, 2010, losing a
no-hitter when Ruiz doubled leading off the bottom of the ninth. He
finished the inning allowing only that hit before Philadelphia won
1-0 in 11 innings.

Wood’s only other start versus the Phillies came in 2011, when
he gave up three runs in six innings as Philadelphia won 5-4 in 19
innings.

He’ll look to help the Cubs (49-63), who have dropped eight of
nine, avoid a sixth straight defeat after they squandered a
three-run lead Tuesday. Anthony Rizzo homered and Donnie Murphy hit
his first homer as a Cub, a three-run shot in the second.

”We finally scored some runs,” Sveum said. ”But if you give
up nine, you’re not going to win many games.”

Chicago has lost 10 of the last 13 meetings with
Philadelphia.