Kevin McAlpin covers the Phillies for 97.5 The Fanatic.  Follow him on Twitter (@KevinMcAlpin)

The second-half of the season didn't get off to such a stellar start last night as the Cubs thumped the Phillies 12-6.  Jamie Moyer gave up six runs on five hits including two long home runs and was pulled after just three innings of work to fall to 9-9 on the season.  After Ryan Howard's two-run blast in the first that landed on Sheffield Ave., the Cubs scored 12 unanswered runs en route to the rout.  Jose Contreras was rocked for five runs on five hits in just two-thirds innings and raised his ERA from 2.79 to 4.25.  

These two teams have a short turnaround as the series continues with a matinee this afternoon at 2:20. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41) looks to bounce back after a rocky outing July 9 as the Reds lit him up for six runs on 12 hits over five-and-a-third.  Blanton hasn't registered a decision since June 24 where he tossed a solid seven-and-two-thirds against the Indians where he gave up three earned runs on six hits.  In 13 starts on the season, Blanton has given up three earned or more in each outing.  Furthermore, he's allowed five earned or more in six of his 13 outings.

Cubs look to make it two-straight and will hand the ball to the southpaw Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08) who's coming off back-to-back disastrous starts.  On July 9, Lilly was pulled after just 3.2 innings where he was rouged up for seven runs on seven hits against the Dodgers.  In Lilly's previous start July 4, he was rocked for nine runs in six-and-two-thirds and gave up four…count 'em four home runs.

After a six-run loss, it's hard to pinpoint many positives.  However, Ryan Howard's two home runs, coupled with the news that third baseman Placido Polanco may return as early as Saturday should give Phillies fans something to be optimistic about.  Chase Utley's cast has come off and he could resume baseball activity during the first week of August.  Hopefully the Phillies can keep the Club in striking distance and the Phillies can actually have their entire line-up in tact for the final eight week stretch run.