Phillies' Hellickson (4-0) battles Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Philadelphia Phillies have yet to lose when right-hander Jeremy Hellickson takes the mound.

Hellickson (4-0, 1.80 ERA) shares the National League lead in wins and owns the fourth-lowest ERA among NL starters as he makes his sixth start of the season on Tuesday in the second game of a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

He will go against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (0-1, 3.68 ERA).

Philadelphia jumped on Chicago early in the Monday game and rolled to a 10-2 victory.

The Phillies (12-12) had five April wins in Hellickson starts, performances that were no surprise to manager Pete Mackanin.

"The thing that impresses me the most is his demeanor on the mound -- his apparently casual way of doing things," Mackanin said. "He doesn't let things bother him, he's consistent with his delivery, and I'm always impressed with a pitcher that has such good command."

Hellickson is off to his best start since opening with a 4-0 record in 2012 while Tampa Bay. The Rays' manager then was under current Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

"He's got an outstanding changeup and curveball," Maddon said. "Fastball he's kind of a dart thrower, he's kind of the short arm, quick arm (thrower) and he gets on the hitter. If he's throwing 91-92 (mph), then he gets really difficult.

"I know he's doing well and he's a great kid ... and he can swing the bat a little bit, too."

Through five seasons with Maddon starting in 2010, Hellickson went 40-36 in 115 games and 108 starts. He had a 3.78 ERA and was AL Rookie of the Year in 2011.

Hellickson has a career 64-58 record with a 3.85 ERA in his eighth big league season. In 2016, he was 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts.

Against the Cubs, he is 1-0 all-time with a 4.05 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.

The Cubs (13-12) will send Lester out for his sixth start of the season Tuesday. He is coming off an Wednesday loss at Pittsburgh in which he allowed season highs in hits (10) and runs (six). Lester gave up five earned runs in back-to-back starts for the first time since early July 2016.

Lester will go up against a Phillies team that has never beaten him. He is 6-0 with a 1.46 ERA in eight career starts vs. Philadelphia, his most wins against any opponent without a loss.

The veteran lefty was 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA in two starts against Philadelphia last year.

The Phillies have struggled away from home, managing just a 5-8 record after the Monday win, which opened the second leg of a seven-game road swing. They were swept in three games over the weekend at Dodger Stadium.

"I was asked at the end of that sweep how it would affect the team, and it wasn't fun leaving there," Mackanin said after the Monday game. "But coming in here and beating the Cubs pretty well is a good sign. ... All in all, it was a pretty good night."

The Cubs, coming off two losses in three games at Boston, are 4-6 at Wrigley Field this season.

The four-game series continues with a Wednesday night game and wraps up on Thursday afternoon.
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