The Phillies defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 45,072 at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels got his second win of the season, throwing seven shutout innings. Ted Lilly took the loss, failing to make it out of the fifth inning for the third straight time.
The Phillies displayed excellent pitching and defense, with enough timely offense. The team put together its first complete, seamless game of the season and showed what can happen when every facet plays up to its potential.
Even the enigmatic Eric Bruntlett made a contribution, with a nice diving catch of a soft line drive in the fifth inning off the bat of Mark DeRosa to keep the lead-off runner off base.
Bruntlett has played the last four games for the injured Jimmy Rollins, who is listed as day-to-day. Rollins suffered a left ankle sprain in Tuesday’s game against the Mets, and has made only pinch-hitting appearances since the injury.
Hamels set the tone with by retiring the first seven Cubs he faced. He allowed only one hit in seven flawless innings, firmly establishing himself as the Phillies’ staff ace. Hamels came into the game with a 1.20 ERA and lowered that to 0.82.
Hamels is fifth in the National League in ERA through his first three starts. While it's still early in the season, the hard-throwing left-hander has make sure his name is included in early discussion of Cy Young candidates.
The Phils' offense took advantage of a struggling Lilly, who came into the game with a 9.72 ERA. After a leadoff walk to Pat Burrell in the second, Pedro Feliz hit a long home run to left center to give the Phils an early 2-0 lead.
Ryan Howard hit his third home run of the season in the fifth, a two-run blast that gave the Phils a 5-0 lead and spelled the end of Lilly’s night.
The Cubs got their only offense off Ryan Madson in the eighth when Ryan Theriot scored on an Alfonso Soriano single to cut the Phils lead to 5-1. That was as close as the Cubs would get.
The Phils added two more runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Bob Howry, who has also struggled for the Cubs in the early part of April. Carlos Ruiz led off with a single and scored on a double to the right field corner off the bat of So Taguchi.
Taguchi scored two batters later on a Jayson Werth double to make it 7-1 and cap the scoring.
Hamels set the early tone for the game, and the Phils' offense took advantage of a struggling Cubs starter. Hamels was able to pitch effectively with a lead, and the offense added to it throughout the game. The Phils showed a glimpse tonight of how good they can be when they put it all together for nine innings.
The victory brought the Phils back to .500 on the season at 6-6 and should give them momentum as they head in to Sunday’s series finale.
If they can carry that momentum past Sunday after an inconsistent start, they could challenge for the National League East crown again.