Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Phillies' checking line takes down Cubs

CHICAGO – No matter how many times the Phillies add a starting pitcher, someone wants to subtract one.
Perhaps it began with the ill-advised trade for Roy Halladay, trade away Cliff Lee winter of 2009.
When the Phillies re-signed Lee the next winter, rumors of trading away Roy Oswalt or Joe Blanton began.
When he arrived to spring training three months ago, Blanton heard the same questions. In the last week, more rumors surfaced involving Blanton and Cole Hamels.

Despite the aforementioned Halladay for Lee switcheroo three winters ago, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. almost always adheres to the adage that you can never have enough pitching. He’ll trade away prospects; but he won’t trade away major league starting pitching.
The reasoning is simple: rare does a season go by that a team relies solely on five starting pitchers. The Phillies have bared witness to this in the last two months when both Cliff Lee and Vance Worley have landed on the disabled list.
In their place, Kyle Kendrick has stepped in and showed off the value of the starting pitching depth Amaro thought enough of to sign him to a two-year, $7.5 million deal in February.
Rushed back into the rotation on short notice, Kendrick held the Cubs to one earned run in six innings as the Phillies took a 9-2 win Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. Carlos Ruiz’s one-out home run in the eighth snapped a 2-2 tie and helped the Phils extend their season-high win streak to four straight games.
The Phillies (19-19) are back at the .500 mark for the first time in two weeks.
They haven’t had a winning record since Roy Halladay won on Opening Day.
Halladay takes the mound Thursday night in the finale of two-game series at Wrigley.
For the fourth time in four starts, Kendrick was not credited with a win.
But for the third straight start, he put the Phils in position to get a win.
Following a disaster in Phoenix three weeks ago, when he allowed seven runs on 11 hits in three innings, Kendrick has been nearly as effective as his rotation mates. Kendrick has a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts.
Summoned into duty when Worley was scratched a day earlier, Kendrick retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced. That run only ended because Juan Pierre couldn’t corral a can-of-corn fly ball to left with one out in the fourth.
The next batter, Alfonso Soriano, hit a two-run home run. It was the only damage to Kendrick’s ERA.
Following Soriano’s home run, Kendrick retired eight straight before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
Kendrick, who hadn’t pitched in a week, threw a season-high 93 pitches. Fourteen of those pitches came in on at-bat: the Bryan LaHair plate appearance that ended with Pierre’s unseemly error.
After Kendrick’s night ended, Jose Contreras, who had allowed runs in each of his last two appearances, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh before turning the ball over to the back of the bullpen.
The offense was supplied by a couple of familiar sources: Ruiz and rookie Freddy Galvis. Ruiz led off the second with a single and scored when Freddy Galvis hit a two-out double later in the inning.
After Soriano’s home run put the Cubs in front 2-1 in the fourth, Pierre made up for his outfield miscue with a two-out double in the top of the fifth. He scored the game-tying run when Shane Victorino followed with an infield single.
The score stayed 2-2 until Ruiz came up against Cubs reliever Shawn Camp in the eighth. Ruiz teed up an 80-mile-per-hour slider and launched it over the ivy in left for his seventh home run of the season.
Ruiz, who finished 2-for-4 to raise his average to .343, is two home runs away from tying his career high of nine, set in 2009.
While Ruiz’s home run was all the bullpen would need, the Phils tacked on a half dozen insurance runs in the ninth.
Ignited by Galvis’s second double of the game, the Phils scored six times in their final at-bat. Galvis, who has 11 doubles this season, is hitting .400 with six extra-base hits and eight RBIs in his last seven games.
Hector Luna’s grand slam capped the offensive explosion in the ninth and sent the majority of the 38,678 Cubs faithful to the exits.


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