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Reply To: MLB Previews, Articles, Info, etc, Sunday 9/13/15

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Preview: Cubs (82-58) at Phillies (54-88)

Game: 4
Venue: Citizens Bank Park
Date: September 13, 2015 1:35 PM EDT

Cody Asche’s pinch-hit, walk-off home run Saturday night took the Chicago Cubs’ division hopes and crushed them into a more realistic second wild card expectation – at least for now.

The last-place Philadelphia Phillies will try to keep the visiting Cubs grounded by going for a four-game split Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

Asche’s two-out homer gave Philadelphia a 7-5 win and turned what could have been Chicago’s big gain in the NL Central into a small one as division-leader St. Louis lost twice in Cincinnati.

The Cubs (82-59) still trail the struggling Cardinals by 5 1/2 games and are three back of Pittsburgh for the top wild card. Chicago will try to grab its eighth victory in 10 games before a key stretch of four in Pittsburgh and three against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs plugged Travis Wood into Dan Haren’s scheduled start Saturday, not wanting rain in the forecast to interrupt his outing. Instead, Haren will take the ball in the series finale.

Haren (9-9, 3.73 ERA) is coming off his best outing in a Cubs uniform during a 9-0 win over St. Louis on Monday. The right-hander worked seven innings, the deepest he’s pitched in a game since the Cubs acquired him at the trade deadline.

Overall, it was Haren’s first time pitching a full seven innings since June 9 and his first scoreless outing since May 23.

“It feels good to go deep in a game like that,” Haren told MLB’s official website.

Haren – 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts against the Phillies – pitched exactly six innings in each of his three starts against Philadelphia this year, surrendering nine runs. Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis each have two home runs against Haren this year.

Howard snapped a lengthy drought with doubles on Friday and Saturday. He is 2 for his last 39 and 6 for 24 with four home runs lifetime against Haren.

Even with Saturday’s win, September has been brutal for a Philadelphia team that holds the worst record in the majors. The Phillies (55-88) were swept by last-place Boston and lost two of three to reeling Atlanta during a stretch of seven losses in nine games.

Sunday starter Aaron Harang (5-15, 5.02) has maybe suffered the most this year. The veteran right-hander lost a career-high eight starts in a row earlier this season, and he will try to avoid becoming MLB’s first 16-game loser.

Harang held a 4-5 record and 2.02 ERA through May 30, but he is 1-10 with a 7.81 ERA since then. He’s been roughed up for 14 runs and five homers in 15 2-3 innings over his last three starts, pushing his ERA above 5.00 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.

‘If you don’t make pitches, you’re going to get hurt,’ Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin told MLB’s official website. ‘I sound like a broken record, but it always boils down to location and commanding your stuff.’

The Cubs are one of three teams Harang has double-digit wins against in his 14-year career, though, as the veteran has built a 12-8 record against them with a 4.31 ERA.

Kyle Schwarber has three home runs and four RBIs in the series, but Chicago’s two veteran catchers have pounded Harang in the past. Miguel Montero is 13 for 23 with seven walks, while the light-hitting David Ross is 5 for 15 with three home runs.