The Virtues of Don't-Swing: Phillies 4, Cubs 1

In striking out the side to finish Friday's 4-3 win over the Phillies, Cubs closer Carlos Marmol looked literally unhittable. About 24 hours later, it wasn't hits that did him in, but wildness; Marmol walked five Phillies in a four-run ninth that lifted the visitors to a desperately needed 4-1 win and wiped away eight innings' worth of futility at the plate and on the bases. 

Through those eight innings, it looked as if the Phils were going to absorb their ninth shutout in 90 games, and 45th in which they scored three runs or fewer. Cubs starter Randy Wells wasn't exactly dominant, allowing seven hits and two walks in his seven innings of work, but three Phillies outs on the bases--two by Shane Victorino--and an inability to produce a hit with men in scoring position had him in line for a win. Setup man Sean Marshall was strong in the eighth, striking out Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez after walking Ryan Howard.

Meanwhile, Cole Hamels seemed bound to fall below .500 despite another very strong outing. Hamels held Chicago off the board through six innings, but surrendered a leadoff double to Cubs rookie Starlin Castro in the seventh. Two batters later, he came around to score on a Ryan Theriot squeeze that went for a single when Hamels lobbed a throw to first and Wilson Valdez was slow to cover. Hamels finished with his fourth straight start of at least seven innings and three runs or fewer allowed, dropping his season ERA to 3.63. 

Still, it took not only Marmol's implosion but a highly implausible defensive lapse for the Phils to rally. Greg Dobbs led off the ninth pinch-hitting for Carlos Ruiz with a flyout to shallow left. Brian Schneider followed, pinch-hitting for Valdez, and drew a walk; with Ruiz already out, Schneider would have to stay in and run, a tactical result that very nearly cost the Phils the game. Ross Gload was the third straight pinch-hitter, for reliever Chad Durbin; after working the count full, he drew his first walk of the season in his 72nd plate appearance. Marmol struck out Victorino, pulling the Cubs within an out of victory--but just-activated Placido Polanco followed with a single to left. As Schneider chugged around third and Tyler Colvin fielded the ball, the game seemed set to end on an out at the plate--but the throw bounced off Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, and the game was tied, with Gload and Polanco advancing to second and third. 

At this point, Marmol collapsed, falling behind Jimmy Rollins and bouncing ball four for a wild pitch that scored Gload and moved Polanco to third. After Rollins stole second, Cubs skipper Lou Pinella ordered an intentional walk of Ryan Howard. Marmol worked the count full to Jayson Werth, who fouled off two pitches before taking ball four to force in a third run. Piniella had seen enough, and lifted Marmol for lefty James Russell. Raul Ibanez bounced a ball to the left side... and Russell was late to cover first, losing the race to Ibanez as Rollins scored to make it 4-1. Only a great play by Castro off the bat of Cody Ransom, pinch-hitting for Dobbs, saved two more runs from scoring. In the bottom of the inning, Brad Lidge worked around a two-out walk to nail down his seventh save of the year. 

Roy Halladay goes tomorrow night as the Phillies try to finish a split of the four game series. 

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