CHICAGO -- With the Phillies just under way with the second half of their season, they entered Friday 5 1/2 games behind the National League East-leading Braves. However, Philadelphia has a little bit of history on its side.
For each of the past four years, the Phillies have played .592 baseball or better in the second half, and have subsequently made the playoffs in all but one of those four years.
"Yeah [we can take confidence from the history]," Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels said. "But at the same time, we do understand that every year is a different year. The teams are better this year, and we're in third place instead of barely in first or being a couple games out."
The Phillies have had experience with tight divisional races in the past, as they famously stole the NL East from right under the Mets' noses in 2007.
"I just think that we have a team that, when our backs are against the wall, we know how to claw and fight all the way to our last breath," Hamels said. "I think that really shows your last breath is your last week, your last game, and we've been in situations where we've come out ahead and we've gotten that confidence."
Despite the historical precedence, Hamels said that the team's effort does not waver between the first half and the second half, but rather, the improved record is a byproduct of the team simply playing better.
"You try to pace yourself throughout the season because seasons are long, but in the end, you just have to let it all loose, because any less and you're going home," Hamels said. "A lot of us don't want to go home. We want to play in the postseason and play into the World Series."
Hamels thinks the Phillies are ready for another dogfight for the division.
"It's going to be until that last game," Hamels said. "It's going to that last week, that last game. That's who we are, and in this league, I think that's what it's going to take."
Polanco expected to return Saturday
CHICAGO -- Placido Polanco is expected to be in the Phillies' lineup on Saturday for the first time since June 25, when he was sidelined with left elbow inflammation.
After Friday's 4-3 loss against the Cubs, manager Charlie Manuel confirmed as much.
"Yeah [I expect him back Saturday]," Manuel said. "There's a good chance. He had three hits today. He'll more than likely be back tomorrow."
Polanco, who was batting .318 with five home runs and 27 RBIs before getting hurt, had three hits for Class A Clearwater on Friday.
"It's going to help a whole lot," Manuel said. "It's going to give us a .300 hitter in the top of the order, that's what it's going to do for us."
Werth not taking slump's end for granted
CHICAGO -- Phillies outfieler Jayson Werth is safely removed from his two-week long slump -- but that doesn't mean he is in any rush to talk about it.
"That's one of those things, the more you talk about, the more pressure you get, and the bigger it becomes," Werth said. "So I'd rather not talk about it."
The fact of the matter is that Werth has been much better of late, batting .287 in the 29 games entering Friday since that frigid 3-for-41 spell.
In those 29 games, Werth hit three home runs and drove in 12 runs.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.