The Cubs faced a tough test in the rubber match with the Phillies on Sunday, as ace Aaron Nola has been hard to beat in 2018. But the visitors have been in the habit of beating top pitchers and this game was no exception. The Northsiders used solo homers to build a lead against Nola in what turned out to be a blowout win.
Cubs starter Jon Lester could have found trouble in the bottom of the 1st inning when leadoff hitter Roman Quinn doubled, but he was cut down by Kyle Schwarber when he went for a triple. That would loom large as Lester allowed two more singles in the inning before getting out of it.
Nola was dominant until the 3rd inning, when he allowed a solo homer to Daniel Murphy. Anthony Rizzo added another home run in the 4th inning to make it 2-0. Lester had another scoreless three-hit inning in the 4th, although none of the hits were hard this time.
Javy Baez cracked a long homer off of the Phillies ace in the top of the 5th, his 30th of the year and also his 100th RBI. Schwarber tripled in Rizzo later in the inning to knock Nola out of the game.
The Cubs put the game away in the top of the 8th against Luis Garcia. Baez tripled to left, Chicago’s third three-bagger of the game, and scored on a Rizzo single. Two walks loaded the bases for Ian Happ, who doubled home two more runs. An Albert Almora Jr. sacrifice fly drove in the final Cubs run to make it 8-0. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Lester was able to hold the Phillies down long enough for the Cubs to build a lead on Nola. Chicago’s starters combined to allow just two runs in over 18 innings in the series.
Quinn getting thrown out at third was a huge moment in the game. If he had stayed at second and scored on one of the two hits later in the inning, things might have been different. An early deficit facing a Cy Young candidate would be tough, but luckily it didn’t happen.
Stats That Matter
- Lester battled through six innings in the heat: 6 IP, 0 R, 8 H, 7 K, 0 BB. Most of the hits he allowed were of the soft variety. He didn’t walk anyone so the weak contact couldn’t do real damage.
- Rizzo got on base all four times at the plate with two walks in addition to two hits. His OPS is up to .857 on the season.
- What more is there to say about Baez? He is the first Cub ever to have 30 homers, 100 RBI, five triples, and 20 steals in a season.
- Happ had a very good day Sunday. He tripled, doubled, and made a great leaping catch against the wall in center.
Chicago is off to a 3-1 start on their grueling 11-game road trip. They now have a big showdown with the Brewers in Milwaukee, where winning two of three might knock the Crew out of the division race.
The aforementioned three-game series begins with a Labor Day matinee at 1:10pm CT. Cole Hamels faces the newly activated Zach Davies in a game broadcast on WGN.