After getting swept at home by the Marlins last weekend, the Phillies finished returning the favor in Chicago on Thursday afternoon, pushing aside the Cubs 6-1 behind another sparkling outing from Cliff Lee and strong offensive showings from Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz. With the win, the Phils moved five games up on the Marlins, who play later tonight, and the idle Braves.
Lee showed his best velocity in three starts with the Phillies, cranking his fastball up to 94 on occasion and sitting in the low 90s for most of the day. He went eight innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out eight, and admirably kept his composure despite getting squeezed early by home plate ump Mark Carlson. The only Cub who saw Lee particularly well was second baseman Jeff Baker, who went two for two with two walks and finished the three game set with seven hits in ten at-bats, raising his season average from .214 to .275. But Milton Bradley, Derrek Lee, Jake Fox, Alfonso Soriano and Geovanny Soto went a combined 2 for 19 with a walk against the Phillies' new ace, who is 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA since coming over in a July 29 trade.
On the offensive side, the Phils looked lost early against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who allowed just one hit through the first three innings. But Shane Victorino led off the fourth with a single to left, Chase Utley followed with a walk, and Howard took a fastball the opposite way for his first home run in 57 at-bats to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. Three batters later, Pedro Feliz added a solo homer. After the Cubs cut the deficit to 4-1 in the fifth, the same two hitters got the run back: Howard led off the sixth with a walk, stole second with two outs, and scored when Feliz stroke a single through the hole on the left side. Utley later singled in Victorino for the Phillies' final run.
The club now moves on to Atlanta for a key series with the Braves starting Friday night, with Joe Blanton scheduled to face Jair Jurrjens.