Smyly rocked as Phillies down Cubs
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Smyly rocked as Phillies down Cubs


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs (37-41) are not a great team, but they have done a fantastic job putting themselves back in the division race to become potential buyers at the deadline. However, all that hard work would go to waste if they turned right around and play themselves out of the race before all started to break and become sellers again.

Looking to even things up against the Philadelphia Phillies (42-37) at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, the Cubs know this current 13-game stretch leading into the all-star break will not only be challenging but will have a lot to say about what direction this team takes post-all-star break. With Drew Smyly on the mound to face off against Aaron Nola, the Phillies offense stayed hot as they struck early and often to chase Smyly in the third while picking up an 8-5 win and series victory.

For the most part, Smyly has had a strong season, but Wednesday was not his night.

Whether that be from the plane ride back from London or other issues that may never be answered, but starts like this are going to happen, and when they do, you tend to throw them out and move on. Smyly had to battle into the fourth inning but could not finish the job as he was charged with seven earned runs in 3 2/3. He walked one and struck out two before handing things over to Hayden Wesneski.

On the other hand, Nola was dominant in his previous start against the Cubs when he struck out 10 in seven dominant innings. Nola wasn't as sharp this time, giving up four runs in five innings, but his offense gave him plenty of support while the bullpen was near lights out. After a scoreless first inning, the Phillies basically put the game away in the second by using a five-run inning to take a 5-0 lead.

A pair of homers led to all five of those runs, with Edmundo Sosa leaving the yard for the two-shot with Nicholas Castellanos adding a three-run blast later in the inning to make things 5-0. You never want to trail by that much against Nola, and this was the same as Jared Young connected for his first career MLB homer in the third to make things 5-1.

Young was called up on Tuesday to face right-handed pitchers, and he will get plenty of opportunities to do that over the next two weeks.

Immediately following that run in the third, it was the Phillies offense back on the attack again, with Kyle Schwarber starting things off with a one-out double and coming around to score on the Castellanos double as his Wrigley Field dominance continues. Bryce Harper would add an RBI single later in the inning to put the Phillies in front 7-1 as Smyly was removed in favor of Wesneski.

Talk about the hero of this game; Wesneski did just what the Cubs needed him to as he allowed one run in his four-plus innings while also striking out four. Most importantly, he gave the Cubs the length they needed, as their bullpen should be in great shape the next few days. Trailing by six in the fourth, Dansby Swanson took it upon himself to pull the Cubs closer as his solo shot made things 7-2.

The Cubs weren't done as Cody Bellinger and Yan Gomes followed that homer up with a pair of singles only to have an inning-ending double play kill the rally.

The long ball continued to be the story in the top half of the fifth, with Josh Harrison taking Wesneski deep to make things 8-2, but that would be it for the Phillies offensively as Wesneski settled into a nice grove to finish off his outing before Michael Rucker took care of the ninth. Not only was Nola not as sharp as he typically is, but you could also see things falling apart in the fifth which gave the Cubs a golden opportunity to pull a bit closer.

Singles from Nick Madrigal and Mike Tauchman started things off, while Nico Hoerner worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. That walk was followed by another walk from Christopher Morel to bring home the Cub's third run, with Ian Happ using an RBI grounder to pull the Cubs within 8-4. Chicago should have had more than an inning, but it was Nola wiggling out of trouble to finish off his outing with the lead and handing things over to the pen in the sixth.

In what was now a battle of the bullpens, Wesneski was doing his part for the Cubs, but the Cub's offense continued to have opportunities only to let them get away. Down to their final three outs, the Cubs had their chance to make things interesting as Madrigal and Miguel Amaya opened up the ninth with a pair of singles against Jose Alverado and had the Phillies in a bit of a panic.

Those singles were followed by a pair of passed balls which allowed one run to score and had the Cubs in front 8-5 and an opportunity to cash in for more. Their comeback bid would end there with Alverado buckling down to retire Hoerner and Morel to end the game and lift the Phillies to the 8-5 victory. Madrigal continues to see the ball well as he led the way with three hits from the No. 9 spot. Seven other players had a hit for the Cubs, who finished with 10 hits. Chicago will look to avoid the sweep on Thursday when they send Professor Kyle Hendricks to the mound to take on Taijuan Walker.

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