Phillies

Phillies 9, Cubs 7: Phillies jump out to big lead, hang on to salvage split

Phillies 9, Cubs 7: Phillies jump out to big lead, hang on to salvage split

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Phillies tried hard to blow a seven-run lead at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, but in the end held on for a 9-7 win over the Chicago Cubs and got out of town with a split in the four-game series that pitted two first-place clubs against each other.

The Phils head to Milwaukee at 29-21.

Aaron Nola was the beneficiary of that early 7-0 lead but he left after 5 1/3 innings as manager Gabe Kapler ran a bullpen shuttle that at times was good and at times was bad. Hector Neris was good — at least in the bottom line. He got dangerous Javier Baez, the potential tying run, for the final out of the eighth inning then stuck around for the final three outs and a save, though it wasn’t easy or pretty.

Even on a day when they had a big lead, Kapler used five relievers.

The Phillies’ offense had a big day.

Only a blown one-run lead in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game stood in the way of the Phillies taking three of four from the Cubs.

The keys

• Neris got the job done.

• The Phillies were able to do something they don’t do often. They took it to Jon Lester. They tagged the Cubs’ starter for seven hits, including two doubles and two homers, and seven runs over four innings. Three of those runs were unearned as the Cubs played shaky defense. Nonetheless, the Phillies did some damage against Lester, who had entered the game 8-0 with a 1.49 ERA against the Phillies in 10 career starts.

• Kapler did not start Maikel Franco because he was 1 for 12 with four strikeouts in his career against Lester. Kapler gave Sean Rodriguez the nod at third base and it paid dividends as Rodriguez had an important hit and scored a run in the Phillies’ three-run fourth inning. He also made the defensive play of the game to get Seranthony Dominguez out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth. Rodriguez was shaded toward shortstop with lefty-hitting Victor Caratini at the plate. Caratini hit a groundball between Rodriguez and the line and Rodriguez beat Jason Heyward to the bag with a diving tag. Franco is probably not quick enough to make that play.

• Big day for some of the Phils’ top offseason acquisitions. Andrew McCutchen had two doubles, an RBI and scored two runs. Bryce Harper drove in a run in the first inning. J.T. Realmuto homered in the third. Jean Segura doubled and scored in the third and clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth.

Segura’s hitting streak is at 14 games.

The bullpen

Reliever Pat Neshek did not have a good day. He entered with an 8-3 lead in the seventh and faced five batters. He gave up a single, a two-run homer and a solo homer as the Cubs made it a two-run game. Jose Alvarez got the final out of the inning and two more in the eighth before handing off to Neris with two men on base. Neris turned it into a nervous ninth but survived. He got the final out with two men in scoring position.

Nola's day

The right-hander was staked to a nice 7-0 lead but pitched only 5 1/3 innings. Kapler lifted him for lefty Adam Morgan with the lefty-hitting Heyward up in the sixth and a man on second. Nola was at 93 pitches. Could he have kept going? Probably. But, obviously, Kapler did not like the matchup.

Nola gave up three runs, all in the fourth, and got a big double-play ball to slow the bleeding in that inning. Nola’s control was spotty. He walked four and struck out six. He is 5-0 with a 4.53 ERA in 11 starts.

Up next  

The Phils will bus to Milwaukee for the next stop on this seven-game road trip. They play a three-game series against the Brewers beginning Friday night. The Brewers (29-22) took three of four from the Phils last week in Philadelphia and outscored the Phils 22-6 in the final three games.

Jerad Eickhoff (2-2, 3.23) pitches Friday night against right-hander Chase Anderson (2-0, 2.66).

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Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Where does one begin after a night like this?

With the offense that loaded the bases twice in the first three innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners?

With the entire infield, which forgot how many outs there were in a fourth inning that set baseball back 70 years?

With the bullpen full of fringe or inexperienced major-league relievers that turned a six-run game into a 13-run game and stood no chance against the Dodgers' potent lineup?

With the $330 million outfielder who has been outplayed by more than a few visiting superstars at Citizens Bank Park this season?

This 16-2 loss, this was the kind of game that left the manager, the players, the fans and the reporters with more questions than answers.

"It's certainly not encouraging," Gabe Kapler said when asked about the embarrassing performance.

The manager didn't do much expanding. He didn't need to. The fact is the 2019 Dodgers are worlds better than the 2019 Phillies. L.A.'s rotation goes five, six, seven deep. Their lineup can beat you with power, with plate selection, with contact or with small ball like they used in the fourth inning, when they perfectly executed a safety squeeze and a double-steal of second and home.

Facing Kershaw, you're not going into the game with huge expectations. The Phillies were +160 underdogs, one of the biggest underdog lines you will see for a baseball team playing at home. But this was still pathetic. Inexcusable. Baffling. Concerning.

Why is it that opposing offenses can come into this park and make it look small? Why is it that opposing hitters can take such advantage of these juiced baseballs but the Phillies cannot? Cody Bellinger had as many home runs in a three-inning span Monday as Harper has in his last 17 home games.

The Phillies have been outscored 34-8 by the Dodgers, the team every other club in the National League knows it probably must get through to make it to the World Series. What is the Phillies' goal at this point? Is it to chase the wild-card? Is it to make it to a one-game playoff, cross their fingers and call it a job well done?

That wasn't the goal in the spring, when this team had 90-plus win aspirations and looked like it might feature five All-Stars.

This is why the game isn't played on paper, they say.

"I think after yesterday's game everybody's real positive and after a game like tonight you feel like you got kicked in the teeth," said Jay Bruce, who stranded six runners. "You get to start over each day and you get to start a game at 0-0 and have an opportunity to win. We have to play better, for sure. But as poorly as we've played, we're still right there in the wild-card hunt and you never know what's going to happen in the division so we just need to play like we can and play more consistent baseball and see what happens. ... A night like tonight is tough but we get to come back tomorrow and do it again."

There weren't many players in the clubhouse when it opened. Harper was sitting right there waiting, like he always does, no matter the game's outcome. He deserves credit for that, even if some of his answers rang hollow.

Zach Eflin, who has allowed 22 runs in his last 20 innings, actually took some positives from his start.

"I really felt like I probably gave up only two hard-ish hit balls that (fourth) inning," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt like I got better today. I thought me and J.T. (Realmuto) did a good job of mixing pitches and really getting my curveball and changeup over. So although the box score doesn't really look too good, I feel like I took a lot of positives from today.

"We're all calm. There's no need to panic. We know how good we're going to be and it's just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks and then it's going to be a fun rest of the year."

They're fine. Everything is fine. The season isn't deteriorating two weeks before the trade deadline.

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

BOX SCORE

What a completely humiliating loss for the Phillies.

It wasn't just that they were blown out, 16-2, by the visiting Dodgers. It was the way it unfolded and the way it sounded.

The Dodgers, with so many of their fans chanting and cheering throughout the night, scored six runs in the Phillies' ugliest inning of the season, the top of the fourth Monday. 

They went single, RBI double, groundout, RBI single, walk, RBI single, safety squeeze RBI single, sacrifice, RBI single, double steal of 2nd and home.

The Dodgers' catcher, Austin Barnes, laid down the successful squeeze. Cesar Hernandez was shifted all the way toward the second base bag and had no chance to scamper to first in time to receive the throw from Zach Eflin. A few batters later, it was again the catcher Barnes who stole home.

And that wasn't even the worst look of the inning. When Eflin struck out Alex Verdugo for the third out, the Phillies were so out of it that the entire infield appeared to not know it was the third out. Realmuto trickled the ball back to the pitcher, Eflin and his fielders stood around, and then after a few seconds, all realized in unison the inning was over and walked toward the dugout. 

The boos just rained down.

You can't blame Phillies fans at this point. They've been watching bad baseball for six weeks. An offense that can't consistently pick up the big hit, a rotation that can't get six innings deep nearly enough, a bullpen that can't protect leads.

It all bubbled to the surface Monday in an ugly loss, the kind of loss one would hope leads to a team meeting or a tough conversation or something that shows these coaches and players are taking the mounting losses personally.

And it got even worse

The Dodgers later added four homers, two by Cody Bellinger. Bellinger had as many home runs at CBP Monday as Bryce Harper has in his last 17 home games.

And still, it got worse. In the eighth inning, Yacksel Rios was ejected for hitting Justin Turner after Verdugo's homer, Edgar Garcia couldn't get a third out, the Dodgers scored five more runs and the Phillies were forced to insert Roman Quinn to pitch ... with the bases loaded. Quinn did get the inning-ending flyout before allowing two more runs in the ninth.

The Phillies are 48-46. Tomorrow night is Vince Velasquez against Walker Buehler.

Missed opportunities

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first and third innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners. Jay Bruce was the main culprit, flying out to end the first and striking out on three pitches with one out and the sacks full in the third.

The Phillies reached base twice via error against Kershaw in the third inning. When you're facing a Hall of Fame pitcher, you have to cash in when you get the chance. The Phillies couldn't. You almost knew before the Dodgers even crossed the plate that this would be costly.

Segura dinged?

Jean Segura was limping in the field in the top of the ninth and again after his groundout in the bottom of the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the game that Segura was being examined but had no further update. We'll know more Tuesday.

Up next

The Phillies again miss NL All-Star starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that just means they get the rest of the Dodgers' strong rotation.

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

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