CHICAGO — The Phillies suffered a painful 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
The Cubs won it with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against reliever Juan Nicasio, who was called on to close on a night when four of the team’s top relievers were apparently unavailable because of recent workload.
The Cubs scored the game-tying run on a bases-loaded infield hit by Albert Almora Jr.
They won it on a hit by pinch-hitter Javier Baez.
The Phillies’ bullpen was clearly not at full strength as Pat Neshek, Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris were all unavailable because of recent workload.
Edgar Garcia and Jose Alvarez got the Phils through the seventh and eighth innings with the lead, but Nicasio could not hold it.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Phillies.
• Starter Zach Eflin did a lot of bending, but he did not break. In the end, it did not matter.
• Kris Bryant scored from second base on a ground ball to shortstop in the first inning, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Bryant was running on the play. It ended up being a huge run for the Cubs.
• Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco had hits in the seventh to set up Andrew McCutchen for a two-run single that gave the Phils a 2-1 lead.
• The Phillies won a challenge in the bottom of the fourth inning and it kept a run off the board. Bryant stroked a ground-rule double to left with two outs. It initially appeared as if Kyle Schwarber had scored from first on the play, but he was told to return to third after the replay review showed him just past second base as the ball left the field of play. It was a pivotal moment in a close game.
• Nicasio faced an uphill battle after walking the leadoff man in the ninth. He then allowed a double. The Cubs scored the tying run with the bases loaded on a nubber out in front of the plate by Almora. Nicasio's toss home to J.T. Realmuto for an attempted force out was not in time. The next batter, Baez, finished the game with a liner to right field.
Eflin worked with catcher Realmuto. His previous four starts had come with Andrew Knapp behind the plate.
The right-hander, who entered the game walking just 1.45 batters pre nine innings (third-best in the majors), was uncharacteristically wild, especially early. He walked a season-high four and three of them came in the first inning.
Eflin was able to survive that early wildness and 32 pitches in the first inning on his way to giving the Phils six innings of one-run ball.
Push for playing time
With Odubel Herrera in an 0-for-15 funk and a lefty on the mound for the Cubs, manager Gabe Kapler used Scott Kingery in center field for the second time in three games. He handled three balls in center and doubled in the ninth. Kingery will continue to get looks in centerfield and has a chance to make a serious dent in Herrera’s playing time if he produces.
Outfielder Dylan Cozens, who had been playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is sidelined indefinitely after requiring surgery to repair a heel injury that bothered him as far back as spring training.
Rookie Cole Irvin, winner of his first two big-league starts, returns to the mound Wednesday night. He will oppose another left-hander with the same first name. Yes, Cole Hamels will pitch against the Phils for the first time in his career. He is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA.
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