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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Cubs' challenge is about to get greater

By Bruce Levine

Halladay
Roy Halladay is just one of the aces awaiting the Cubs on their long, difficult trip.
The Chicago Cubs snapped an eight-game losing streak on Wednesday, but the next stretch of games may pose an even greater challenge for the North Siders.

After the series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies and Kyle Kendrick on Thursday, the Cubs face three former 20-game winners in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. The first two are former Cy Young Award winners.

"You go into Philadelphia, and I don't need to tell you about their rotation," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "I can only concern myself with getting this club to play as good as it can and pitch as good as we can and buckle up for some tight ballgames we hope we can win. It's that simple at this point. It doesn't matter if it's Philadelphia, San Francisco or the Cardinals, for me to reflect on how tough it's going to be does no good."

After the Phillies, the Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers and could face top pitchers Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. That group is 19-5 heading into Gallardo's start on Thursday. The Cubs' top three of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza is 12-12.

"Awesome," Dempster said of the challenge of facing Philadelphia. "That's what it's all about. That will be a fun challenge right there. We'll try to make them all losers in those three games. It's a tough task, but you try to worry about [Thursday's game] and just try to win that one first."

The Cubs do not play a team under .500 until June 20, when they face the White Sox, who are playing as well as any team in the American League at the moment.