Phillies sweep Cubs
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Phillies sweep Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - The roller coaster of a regular season that these Chicago Cubs (37-42) have put us on continues, and once again, things are looking bleak. Just a week after putting together an impressive run to put themselves back in the division race, the Cubs returned to Wrigley Field from London and looked about as flat as you can play.

Hoping to avoid a sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies (43-37), the Cubs sent Professor Kyle Hendricks to the mound as he faced off against Taijuan Walker. Despite another strong performance from Hendricks, who pitched into the seventh inning, it was Walker who won his fifth consecutive start as the Cubs offense was held in check again 3-1. Had it not been for a gem of a game from Marcus Stroman earlier this season, Philadelphia would have swept the season series against this Cubs team after getting swept last season.

When Hendricks was cleared to return to the bigs, no one knew what to expect from their veteran right-hander. Had they known this was the version they would get, I am not sure they would have added Jameson Taillon to this rotation, as Hendricks gave the Cubs seven innings of three-run ball with four strikeouts. His ERA stands at 2.81 for the season as he continues to impress.

Speaking of guys who have impressed, Walker is putting together a fantastic season which is a surprise when you think about it. This was one of the worst starting pitchers in the majors the first month of the season, but he has since turned it around. Following his six-inning start of one-run six, strikeout baseball, Walker has now won his last five decisions to improve to 9-3 on the season. He has also lowered his ERA to 3.93 after sitting north of 7.25 earlier in the year.

It is always good to have a leadoff hitter that can bring you instance offense, and the Phillies have that in Kyle Schwarber, who opened the game with a leadoff homer for his 21st of the season. The Cubs know all too well what Schwarber can do in that role, but the month of June has brought out the best in him the past two seasons. That homer was followed by a Trea Turner double before Hendricks would retire the next six hitters he faced.

Trailing 1-0 in the second, which has been a theme on this current homestand, Cody Bellinger picked up a one-out single to reach base, but an RBI triple from Jared Young tied things up. For Young, he couldn't have asked for a better last two days, picking up his first career homer on Wednesday and now adding his first career triple. Little did the Cubs know that would be their only run of the game as their offense went quiet again.

After settling in following a bit of a shaky start to his game, Hendricks started to run into more trouble in the third, with the Phillies offense putting together harder contact. Kody Clemens led the inning off with a single before Turner singled two batters later. In danger of stranding two on the bases, Bryce Harper came through with a massive single up the middle as he brought home a pair of runs to put the Phillies back in front 3-1. Like the Cubs, those would be the last of their runs as the pitching dominated the rest of the way.

Over the next two innings, the Cubs had their chances, with Christopher Morel picking up a two-out double in the third only to be left stranded before a nice run of at-bats set the Cubs up nicely in the fourth. Bellinger started that with a walk, followed by the Miguel Amaya single, only for the Cubs to come up empty again.

You can't squander chances like that, especially when Hendricks got on a roll to retire 11 consecutive hitters at one point before the Brandon Marsh double in the seventh put an end to that. Hendricks didn't let that phase him as he pitched around that double to get off the field and gave the Cubs seven innings again.

With Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr tossing a pair of scoreless frames, it was up to the Cub's offense to get something going in the ninth as they faced off with their former closer, Craig Kimbrel. Despite posting an ERA of around 4.00, Kimbrel has done a great job in the back of the Phillies pen as he entered the game a perfect 11-11 in saves. Make that 12-12 as he plowed through the Cubs offense to retire them in order and capped off the sweep for the Phillies.

Nico Hoerner and Morel led the way with two hits each as the Cubs had seven hits as a team. Hoping to end their skid on Friday, the Cubs will welcome the Cleveland Guardians to town for the first of three-day games over the weekend. Justin Steele is expected to make that start for the Cubs.

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