The Phillies’ bullpen would blow yet another game in the eighth inning as Chad Durbin gives up a grand slam home run to Aramis Ramirez, as the Phillies lose the opener of their four games series with the Major League leading Cubs, 6-4. The Phillies would take the lead in the first inning, as, with runners on the corners and two outs, Shane Victorino would hit a RBI single, scoring Chase Utley, who has earlier singled, and sending Ryan Howard, who has walked, to third. After Jayson Werth worked a walk off of Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster to load the bases, Dempster would end the inning by getting Pedro Feliz to strike out swinging. The game would then become a pitchers’ duel between Phillies’ starter Cole Hamels and Dempster, as Hamels would refuse to give up hits to the Cubs while Dempster would get out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings. In the Cubs’ half of the fifth, they would tie the game at one all, as, with one out, Mark DeRosa would hit a RBI triple, scoring Kosuke Fukudome, who has gotten on base with an infield single. Hamels would then end the threat by first striking out Dempster for out number two, and then getting Alfonso Soriano to pop up to the shortstop for the inning’s final out. The Phillies would then regain the lead in the sixth. Werth would start the inning off with a double. Feliz would then walk, putting runners on first and second. Carlos Ruiz would then hit a RBI single, scoring Werth, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead, while sending Feliz to second. Hamels would then sacrifice the runners over to third and second, respectively, for the inning’s first out. Jimmy Rollins would then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Feliz, to make it a 3-1 Phillies’ lead, while sending Ruiz to third. The Cubs then decided to pitch to Utley, instead of going after a slumping Pat Burrell, and Utley would make them pay for it as he would hit a RBI single, knocking in Ruiz, to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead. Burrell would end the inning by flying out to left. Hamels would then proceed to keep the Cubs silent in both the sixth and seventh innings, before handing the ball over to the bullpen. Unfortunatley, the bullpen would not be able to preserve the win in the eighth. Ryan Madson would give up a lead-off pinch hit home run to pinch hitter Mike Fontenot, his ninth home run of the year, cutting the Phillies’ lead down to 4-2. Soriano would follow with a double. Ryan Theriot would then single, sending Soriano to third, with no one out. Charlie Manuel would immediately take out Madson and replace him with Chad Durbin. Durbin would then walk Derrick Lee, loading up the bases. Then, on a 1-0 fastball, Aramis Ramirez would hit a grand slam home run, his twenty-fourth home run of the year, scoring Soriano, Theriot and Lee, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead. That would end up being the final score as the Phillies would be turned back in the ninth, with Kerry Wood recording his twenty-eight save of the year.
Cole Hamels would get another no-decision, as he pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run on five hits and striking out six. Ryan Madson would face only three batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits. Chad Durbin would get the lost as he received his fifth blown save of the year, as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up two earned runs on two hits and a walk. His record is now 5-3 with a 2.19 ERA. J.C. Romero would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs and no hits. Ryan Dempster would also get a no-decision as he goes six innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out seven. Sean Marshall would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Bob Howry would get the win as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. His record is now 6-4 with a 5.31 ERA. Kerry Wood would get the save, his twenty-eighth of the year, as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up only one hit.
For the second straight night, the Phillies’ bullpen would blow a lead in the eighth inning, now showing itself to maybe getting overworked. It would seem that one or two of the starter(s) might have to go eight full innings if they want to avoid any more eight innings blow ups like in the last two games. Either that, or Charlie Manuel is going to have to find someone who is fresh enough to act as the eighth inning bridge to Brad Lidge. Scott Eyre maybe? Just a suggestion, Chuck.
The Phillies (73-61) will continue their four games series with the Cubs (84-50, 1st National League Central). The game will be played in Wrigley Field and will start at 2:20 pm Eastern (1:20 pm Central). The Phillies’ starter will be Joe Blanton (6-12 (1-0), 4.75), who is coming off a no-decision against the Dodgers on August 24, as he went six innings, giving up just one earned run on six hits, in the Phillies’ 5-2 extra-inning win. He has never pitched against the Cubs and will be trying to pitched his fourth quality start since his trade to the Phils and his second win, while trying to end the Phillies’ present two games slide. The Cubs will counter with Rich Harden (9-2 (4-1), 2.00), who is coming off a win against the Nationals on August 24, as he went seven innings, giving up only an earned run on two hits and striking out eleven, in the Cubs’ 6-1 win. He has faced the Phillies once before on June 26 as a member of the A’s, giving up no runs on two hits and striking out eleven in eight innings of work, in the A’s 5-0 win. He will be trying for his tenth win, while hoping to once again defeat the Phils.
With the lost, the Phillies trail the Mets by a full game, and are ahead of the Marlins by five games, as the Mets prepare to meet the Marlins for three games in Miami. The Phillies will be trying to recover from their last two loses while trying to see if they can regain first place during the series between the Mets and the Marlins.