Besides the obvious factor of routinely shutting down opponents, Roy Halladay is also considered one of baseball's top pitchers because he regularly pitches deep into games.
The extra time off during the All-Star break would figure to be beneficial for the arm of the Philadelphia Phillies' ace, though the workhorse would probably prefer to take the ball on normal rest.Halladay looks to overcome his recent history of struggling in his first start after the break when the NL East-leading Phillies visit the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.Halladay (11-3, 2.45 ERA) earned the start in last week's All-Star game, having hit the break with an NL-high 143 1/3 innings while ranking second in wins and strikeouts (138), and fifth in ERA. He looked sharp in the Midsummer Classic, throwing two perfect innings."You want to face the best, and it's always a battle," center fielder Marlon Byrd told the Cubs' official website about the right-hander.Halladay has won his last six decisions and seems poised to carry that success into the second half of the season.A possible stumbling block, however, could come in Chicago.Halladay made his first start after the 2010 All-Star break exactly one year ago at Wrigley Field, and gave up six runs and seven hits in six innings of an 11-6 loss. It was the third time in four starts immediately following the break the eight-time All-Star allowed at least five runs.Halladay was pitching on seven days' rest at Wrigley last year, and will be on nine days' rest this time.The two-time Cy Young Award winner last took the mound July 8, allowing two runs while striking out seven in seven innings of a 3-2, 10-inning victory. The Phillies (59-35) have won each of Halladay's last 10 starts, and are 16-3 with him on the mound this season.Philadelphia's current winning streak with Halladay includes an outing against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on June 10. He pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out nine in a 7-5 victory.The Phillies, who took three of four from the Cubs in June, arrive in Chicago after beating the New York Mets 8-5 on Sunday.Ryan Howard went 1 for 11 with an RBI in the three games at Citi Field, but might fare a bit better in this series.Howard has an 18-game hitting streak at Wrigley and is batting .417 with six homers and 15 RBIs in his last nine there. He is 6 for 11 with a home run against scheduled starter Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02).Despite Howard's production, the Phillies dropped three of four at Wrigley last season.The Cubs (38-58) fell for the eighth time in 11 games Sunday, 7-5 to Florida to drop a season-worst 20 games below .500. Starlin Castro, who drove in a run with his team-leading 25th double, is 3 for 6 against Halladay.Lopez takes the mound for the first time since giving up three runs in six innings of a 7-4 loss to Pittsburgh on July 8. The right-hander, who did not receive a decision, is 1-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last three starts after making his previous nine appearances out of the bullpen.Lopez made two relief outings against the Phillies during that stretch, allowing two hits in three scoreless innings. In four starts versus Philadelphia, he is 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.