CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs, ranked fourth in the majors in runs per game and OPS, showed off their thunderous lineup in laying an 8-4 beating on the Phillies at sold-out Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
The Phils actually held an early 3-0 lead on Cole Hamels, who faced his old team for the first time. Hamels did not pitch well, but neither did Phillies rookie Cole Irvin. He allowed seven runs on a three-run homer and a grand slam. All eight of the Cubs’ runs came on homers.
The loss was the Phillies’ second in as many nights against the Cubs. The Phils blew a one-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday night and suffered a walk-off loss.
The Phils remain atop the NL East at 28-21.
• Irvin is a pitcher who needs to locate well and change speeds. He doesn’t have the stuff to survive in the middle of the plate. He was hurt badly by two juicy pitches over the heart of the plate. Anthony Rizzo crushed a grooved, 3-0 fastball that registered just 87.7 mph high off the scoreboard in right field for a game-tying three-run homer in the third inning and Albert Almora Jr. clubbed a two-out grand slam in the fourth on a first-pitch changeup that was up and over the heart of the plate.
• Phillies hitters made Hamels throw pitches. He ran his count to 99 and was out of the game after four innings. The Phils got to Hamels for three runs, but they could have done more. They left runners at second and third in the first inning and the bases full in the fourth.
The rookie lefty showed moments of poise. For instance, after serving up the 437-foot, three-run bomb to Rizzo with no outs in the third, he got three quick outs on his way to retiring seven straight. But the walls caved in in the fifth when he gave up a one-out double and two walks to set the table for Almora.
In all, Irvin gave up seven hits, four for extra bases, in 4 2/3 innings. He’s had two good starts and one poor one. The poor one came in an intimidating environment against an intimidating lineup. It would not be surprising if Phillies officials took that into account and stuck with Irvin for his next turn (see story). If they decide against that, they could reinsert Vince Velasquez into the rotation. He’s pretty much recovered from a sore elbow and ready to go and the Phils face a decision on what to do with him (see story).
Center of attention
Scott Kingery got his second straight start in center field and third in four games since coming off the injured list. He misplayed a routine fly ball in the third and it hurt. The ball dropped in for a single and Rizzo followed with his three-run homer. Kingery, primarily an infielder, has not looked completely comfortable the last two nights in center field.
Bryce Harper had three hits, including a bunt single in the Phils’ two-run third inning. Surprisingly, it was the 11th bunt single of Harper’s career and second this season.
The four-game series comes to an end Thursday afternoon with a good pitching matchup — Aaron Nola (4-0, 4.47) against Jon Lester (3-2, 2.09). The Phils need a win for a series split.
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