Contreras blasted another homer in the win (Kyle Ross - USA Today Sports)
Contreras blasted another homer in the win (Kyle Ross - USA Today Sports)

Cubs open second half with blowout win over Phillies


by - Senior Writer -

PHILADELPHIA - It has been a long time since the Chicago Cubs (36-57) looked as good as they did Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. With the unofficial beginning of the second half underway, the Cubs took to the East coast, where the Philadelphia Phillies (49-44) were waiting for a three-game set.

What started as a pitcher's duel between Kyle Gibson and Justin Steele turned into a landslide win as the Cubs scored 15 unanswered runs at one point before claiming a 15-2 victory. This was a perfect example of a team win as this team's past, present, and future contributors all came up in a big way to lead this team to a victory.

For Steele, his command wasn't great, but he gave the Cubs all they needed and more to pick up his fourth win of the season. Yes, he did have more walks than strikeouts, but you are doing something right when you get through five innings allowing just one run. That run came just two pitches into his outing as Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the first with a homer to put the Phillies in front 1-0.

Given the way Gibson was pitching in the early going, that one-run lead looked a lot bigger as the Cubs offense had runners on base, but couldn't cash in through three innings. It wasn't until the fourth when the offens came to life as the Willson Contreras solo homer was the beginning of what was a 15-run onslaught to put the game away.

With the score now tied 1-1 in the fifth, the human spark plug Christopher Morel gave the Cubs the lead for good as his RBI double turned into a little league inside the park homer to put the Cubs in front 3-1. Following one-out singles by Contreras and Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ added another RBI single to make things 4-1 before Nico Hoerner cleared the bases with an RBI double to put the Cubs in front 6-1.

Add in a Patrick Wisdom later in that fifth inning, and the Cubs used a six-run frame to not only chase Gibson, but led 7-1 at this point as Steele got through the fifth inning to put himself in line for the victory. With things now becoming a battle of the bullpens, both sides did a great job as Corey Knebel delivered a scoreless outing to his name while Brandon Hughes was the first of several arms for the Cubs to trot out there.

Scott Effross followed him in the seventh, but it was time for the Cubs offense to retake center stage. Although Nelson Velazquez didn't start the game, he finished with a flurry as he led the team with five RBIs on the strength of two homers. The first of those homers came in the eighth inning, with Velazquez connecting for a two-run shot. Happ would add his second RBI hit later in that eighth inning as the Cubs were now in front 10-1.

One inning later saw the Cubs offense back on the attack as the Phillies had no answers for what was happening. With Alfonso Rivas working a one-out walk, the Morel single immediately after started what would be five consecutive hits for the Cubs offense. The biggest one was the Velazquez three-run shot to center as the Cubs now led 13-1.

That homer was followed by a PJ Higgins double before Suzuki capped off his four-hit night with a homer to center, making things 15-1 Cubs. Happ picked up another ninth-inning hit to make it five straight hits for the Cubs offense, but they would fizzle out shortly after.

Erich Uelmen was called on to pitch the ninth inning as this would be his major league debut. After retiring the first two hitters he faced, Darick Hall unloaded one over the batter's eye in center field as the Cubs streak for runs scored came to an end.

Even then, the Cubs picked up their first win to begin the second half as they crushed the Phillies 15-2. Both Suzuki and Happ had great nights at the plate as they came away with four-hit games and a combined four RBIs.

Morel added three hits from the No. 9 spot, while Velazquez and Contreras picked up two hits in the win.

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