Game Fifty-Eight – Cubs 8, Phillies 1
WP – John Lackey (7-2) LP – Brett Oberholtzer (2-1) Save – None
John Lackey shut out the Phillies for seven innings. Albert Almora Jr. made the defensive play of the day in the first inning and changed the game. Javier Baez had four hits and drove in the first run before the offense turned it on.
Kris Bryant launched a two-run homer. Ben Zobrist hit a solo shot. Albert Almora Jr. recorded his first big league hit and RBI when he singled in Anthony Rizzo in the eighth. And the Cubs methodically took care of the Phillies in the finale of the three-game series on Wednesday afternoon.
The Cubs scored seven of the eight runs in the sixth and eight innings and turned what was a very close game for a majority of the afternoon into a blowout. The Phillies lone run scored in the ninth with the game well in hand at that point.
Rain delayed the start for 19 minutes and two pitches into the game, Phillies’ starter Vince Velasquez had to leave with right biceps soreness. When play resumed, the Cubs could not figure out lefty Brett Oberholtzer. The Cubs grounded into two inning ending double plays and were unable to put anything together offensively.
While the offense was struggling, John Lackey settled in after he was bailed out of trouble in the first inning by the youngest player on the roster.
The Phillies came out swinging against John Lackey. Odubel Herrera singled to right and went to third on a single to left center by Cesar Hernandez. With runners on the corners and no outs, Freddy Galvis lifted a 0-1 pitch to left center. Dexter Fowler and Albert Almora Jr. converged. Almora Jr. called off Fowler, caught the ball and threw a strike to the plate. Miguel Montero handed the 200-foot strike and tagged out Herrera to complete the double play.
Albert Almora Jr. changed the game. Lackey retired Maikel Franco on a routine fly to end the first. Jason Heyward made two excellent defensive plays in right field. And Lackey allowed just one more hit for the remainder of his outing.
John Lackey retired the last 16 batters he faced Wednesday afternoon. Lackey did not walk a batter and struck out eight while allowing just three hits, and not a single baserunner after the second inning. Lackey made 100 pitches, 62 for strikes, in another excellent outing.
The Cubs offense finally broke through in the fifth inning. And it was an error that opened the door.
Ben Zobrist (2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored) led off the fifth with a single to center off lefty Brett Oberholtzer. Albert Almora Jr. (1-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI) lined out to center. Miguel Montero (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) appeared to ground into the Cubs’ third double play of the game. Oberholtzer fielded the tapper back to the mound, but he rushed his throw to second base. The ball ended up in the dirt and the always hustling Zobrist slid in safe at second base.
Javier Baez (4-for-4 with a double and three RBI) hit a seeing-eye single into left. Zobrist scored and gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Pete Mackanin went to his bullpen and replaced Oberholtzer with Andrew Bailey. Lackey struck out swinging and Dexter Fowler (0-for-5) grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs played longball in the sixth inning and gave Lackey a little breathing room
Jason Heyward (2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) led off the sixth with a single to right and he was on board for the KBoom.
Kris Bryant (2-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBI) launched his 14th homer of the season to left. And the two-run shot gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
After Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a RBI) rolled out to second, Ben Zobrist collected his second hit of the game. Zobrist’s solo shot to right center capped the scoring in the sixth and gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs put the game away in the eighth inning.
Kris Bryant led off the eighth with a single to right. Bryant swiped second with Rizzo at the plate. Anthony Rizzo beat the shift with a double to left. Bryant scored, 5-0 Cubs. Zobrist grounded out to Galvis in the shift behind second base. Rizzo moved to third.
Albert Almora Jr. crossed a lot of firsts off his list. Almora Jr. bounced a 0-2 pitch back up the middle and off of Colton Murray’s glove. The ball ended up in center. Rizzo scored and the Cubs dugout asked for the ball. Almora Jr.’s first big league hit gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
Miguel Montero walked and it was Javy Time once again.
A wild pitch allowed Almora Jr. and Montero to move up 90 feet. With runners on second and third, Baez singled to center. Almora Jr. and Montero scored, 8-0 Cubs. Baez was thrown out at second. Matt Szczur hit for Lackey with the Cubs leading by eight runs and grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Pedro Strop struck out the side in order in the eighth. Clayton Richard continued to struggle. Richard walked pinch-hitter Tommy Joseph to start the ninth. A passed ball allowed Joseph to move to second. Herrera grounded out to Zobrist, Joseph went to third and scored when Cesar Hernandez grounded out to short. Freddy Galvis rolled out to Bryant at third to end the game.
The Cubs took the series (2-1) and season series (5-1) from the Phillies. And with Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 41-17 on the season.
Thursday is an off-day for the Cubs. Joe Maddon’s team opens a three-game series against the Braves in Atlanta on Friday night (6:35pm CDT). Jason Hammel is scheduled to square off against veteran right-hander Bud Norris.