The Philadelphia Phillies aren't making things easy in their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Their continued struggles against the Chicago Cubs haven't helped matters.
Looking to avoid being swept in the six-game season series with the Cubs, the visiting Phillies hope to snap their four-game overall losing streak on Thursday.
Philadelphia (83-71) won five straight from Sept. 9-14 but is 3-9 since. After the Phillies fell 4-2 at Chicago on Wednesday and the Brewers (83-72) beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1, Philadelphia holds just a one-half game lead over Milwaukee for the National League's third and final wild-card spot.
The Phillies, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Brewers, have totaled 13 runs while losing six in a row on the road, where they are 3-12 since Aug. 17.
"We have to get going," Philadelphia star Bryce Harper said. "We can't keep saying that, right? We have to actually do it. As a team, as a club, we've got to be better."
Harper is 3-for-24 (.125) with eight strikeouts in his past seven games, but has driven in all three Philadelphia runs during the current series. The Phillies have dropped all five meetings this season against Chicago (69-86), which has won 17 of its past 21 against teams from the NL East.
After Phillies starter Aaron Nola allowed all four runs on Wednesday, including a three-run homer by rookie Christopher Morel, Philadelphia turns to Ranger Suarez (10-5, 3.38 ERA) in the series finale.
The left-hander has allowed only a solo homer, six other hits and five walks while striking out eight in 12 innings over his past two starts -- both against the Atlanta Braves.
Suarez's only start against the Cubs came in September 2021, when he gave up two runs and fanned eight over six innings. In three career appearances against Chicago, he is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
The Cubs will give the ball to rookie Javier Assad (1-2, 4.28 ERA) on Thursday. The right-hander went 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA through four starts and one relief outing to begin his major league career this season. However, Assad has allowed eight runs, seven earned, and six hits with seven walks while striking out five over six innings while going 0-1 in his past two starts.
Though the Cubs will miss the postseason for a second consecutive year, they have won three in a row and seven of their past eight. With young talent such as Morel, and the possibility of spending on some quality, established players in 2023, there is a hint of optimism in the final days of Chicago's disappointing campaign.
"I know we have a future," said Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, whose future with the club remains uncertain. "But, getting close to win? We're still going to have a lot of work to do. ... Still, this team's going to need some balance like we had (when winning the World Series) in 2016."
Morel, who has homered in the first two games of the three-game set and ranks fourth among the NL rookies with 16 long balls, is 9-for-18 with seven RBIs vs. Philadelphia this year.
The Phillies' Rhys Hoskins is batting .429 (9-for-21) in his past five contests after recording three hits on Wednesday.
--Field Level Media