The Cubs' lineup has to face a certified Cy Young talent one more time this week, taking on the fourth Cy Young Award winner in five days when they meet Cliff Lee in the middle game of a weekend set on Saturday.
Lee, who turned 35 on Friday, will face second-year southpaw Chris Rusin, a 26-year-old who has had a solid summer, as two teams looking to find some answers down the stretch meet in a midafternoon affair at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies took the first game on a day interim manager Ryne Sandberg, a Hall of Fame second baseman with the Cubs, made his first appearance as the visitor making out the lineup card.
The Cubs faced Roy Halladay in the opener, and they took on the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke earlier in the week. Throw in a meeting with Lee, and it's been quite a run of former Cy Young winners taking the mound against the Cubs.
On top of that, Lee has had success in his career against the Cubs, posting a 4-0 record and a 1.77 ERA in six starts -- although it has been a couple of years since he last faced them. His last outing against Chicago was on July 19, 2011, when he tossed six innings and gave up two runs on eight hits and struck out six in a no-decision.
Perhaps of more relevance to Saturday's outing, Lee is coming off a stellar start against the Mets on Monday, in which he went eight innings, giving up one run on five hits, issuing one walk and striking out seven. Lee said he didn't feel as good as the results looked in that one.
"It was just a game I felt like I was grinding and getting results," said Lee, who is 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA in five August starts.
Rusin, who will be making his first appearance against the Phillies, allowed just three hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball his last time out, but got the no-decision in what ended up being a 15-inning loss to the Padres. That gave him a road scoreless innings streak of 19 1/3 innings, but he has yet to win a game at home this season.
Phillies: Bullpen improvement impresses
Philadelphia's bullpen is showing signs of turning things around, and Friday's game was another example of the unit's upward trend. The relief crew picked up Halladay with four shutout innings that left the door open for the Phillies' comeback.
Zach Miner, Jake Diekman, B.J. Rosenberg (who earned his first win of the season) and closer Jonathan Papelbon (23rd save) did the honors on Friday, keeping some positive momentum going for the Phillies' bullpen.
Said Sandberg: "The bullpen has been one of the biggest things that has really come along the last two weeks."
Diekman has tossed nine scoreless innings in his last nine appearances dating back to Aug. 11, allowing five hits with 14 strikeouts and one walk. Rosenberg has held opponents scoreless in seven straight appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 16.
• Halladay grounded out in his first, and only, at-bat on Friday, leaving him tied with Dean Chance for the Major League record for most consecutive at-bats with a strikeout at 13.
Cubs: Schierholtz goes deep
Nate Schierholtz collected his career-high 20th home run Friday, sending one over the right-field wall off Halladay in the fourth inning. Along with Anthony Rizzo, who hit his 21st, Schierholtz gives the Cubs a pair of 20-homer players after only one -- Alfonso Soriano, with 32 -- went past 20 last year.
Schierholtz's previous high was nine, with the Giants in 2011. He also has career highs with 26 doubles, 102 hits, 52 runs and 62 RBIs in 113 games and 383 at-bats -- another career high.
• With a pair of hits on Friday, Starlin Castro has three multi-hit games in his nine straight leadoff assignments, reaching safely in all nine.
• The Phillies have won six of their last seven games against the Cubs, nine of the last 12, and 12 of the last 16. The Phillies lead the season series, 3-1
• The Cubs are 56-78 through 134 games, a five-game improvement over last year.
• The Phillies are 12-19 against the NL Central.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.