Almora makes MLB debut but Cubs fall to Phillies


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Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies (29-30) squeaked out a victory over the Chicago Cubs (40-17) on Tuesday night at Citizens Banks Park, winning by a final score of 3-2. A far different ballgame than the opener of the three-game series on Monday, Tuesday’s game was not an offensive affair. With both teams accruing six hits apiece, the Phillies were lucky to escape as victors.

After pitching two consecutive gems, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks did not fare too well at the start of tonight’s game, giving up a run in the bottom of the first. Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis hit a two-out double that was followed by a single off the bat of third baseman Maikel Franco, which enabled the speedy Galvis to score. Hendricks escaped the inning only allowing one run, but it proved to be the difference-maker, as the Phillies never relinquished the lead.

The Cubs had major trouble hitting Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff, who struck out eight batters and garnered the win to move to 3-8 on the season. In fact, the Cubs failed to advance a runner into scoring position until the fifth inning, when second baseman Ben Zobrist took advantage of a fortuitous jump from first and made it to third on a single by second baseman Tommy La Stella. With two hits on the evening, La Stella was the only player for either team to amass more than one hit.

Cubs phenom Albert Almora Jr. had his major league debut as he came into the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and bounced out to third.

Zobrist, who was walked to begin the fifth, crossed home on a double play groundout by catcher Miguel Montero. The run proved to be Eickhoff’s only blemish of the outing, and he was relieved in the eighth inning having only given up two hits.

As for Hendricks, he only gave up four hits himself, but he was victimized by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in the bottom of the fourth, when the former MVP turned back the clock and crushed a dinger 381 feet over the wall in right-center. Howard’s ninth home run of the year, the veteran displayed the young Hendricks no brotherly love with that hit.

The Phillies led 2-0 following Howard’s homer, and they later took advantage of Cubs reliever Adam Warren’s shaky pitching to add an insurance run while already leading 2-1 in the seventh. Wily catcher Carlos Ruiz, who is definitely not a prototypical base-stealer, stole second after singling to left. A wild pitch by Warren then allowed Ruiz to take third, and, after Clayton Richard replaced Warren, a single by promising young Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera brought Ruiz home to give Philadelphia a 3-1 advantage.

Even though an eventful top of the eighth saw the Cubs add a run to the scoreboard when pinch runner Matt Szczur scored on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Dexter Fowler, right fielder Jason Heyward, who was hitless on the night, ended the inning on a double play groundout, something he has been notorious for doing this season.

With men on first and third in the top of the ninth and two outs, catcher David Ross failed to come up big, grounding out to end the game. Hendricks earned the loss and moved to 4-5 on the season. Fellow Cubs starter John Lackey will look to avenge him tomorrow afternoon when he takes the hill in the series’ rubber match against Phillies starter Vince Velasquez.

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