Cubs break down on road again in 4-2 loss to Phils
PHILADELPHIA – The home-white jerseys have run their course.
The Cubs are right back where they have spent most of this when it comes to the road: in the middle of it, staring at headlights.
And not even the hottest starter on the staff and the hottest hitter in the lineup could save the Cubs on this night – despite big performances again from Jose Quintana and Nick Castellanos.
Not even against the reeling Phillies.
Not on the road.
Not once the game got to the depleted bullpen.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto drove in his third run of the game in the seventh on a two-out double off David Phelps, and Roman Quinn tripled home another two-out run off rookie Duane Underwood in the eighth.
And just like that the Cubs lost the opener of the three-game series in Philadelphia, 4-2 – sending them to their third loss in four games and putting them on the brink of a 12th consecutive winless road series.
The Cubs haven’t won a road series the middle of May, and have lost 25 of their 36 road games since that series in Washington.
They opened this road trip in Cincinnati on Thursday by bringing their home jerseys on the trip and hanging them at each locker in the visitors’ clubhouse – then routed the Reds 12-5.
Then they lost the next two games and barely escaped with a four-game split after outlasting Reds ace Luis Castillo Sunday and coming back against the bullpen for a 6-3 victory.
The home jerseys were hanging at the lockers again Tuesday but could be in jeopardy for Wednesday.
Especially after losing to a Phillies team that has struggled for more than a month, including five losses in its previous six games and that took the field just a few hours after firing hitting coach John Mallee, the former Cubs hitting coach.
Until the game reached a Cubs bullpen missing its three best late-inning pitchers to injuries (Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek), Quintana made the Phillies hitters look lost without Mallee most of the night with a career-high 14 strikeouts.
That included the final four he faced and eight of the final 10 on a night he walked only one in his six innings.
Quintana matched Jon Lester (in 2015) for the most strikeouts in a game by a left-hander in franchise history since at least 1908 (as far back as reliable game-by-game records go).
Since going nine consecutive starts without a victory, Quintana now has gone eight without a loss (6-0, 3.40 ERA) – with 50 strikeouts and just seven walks in those 47 2/3 innings.
In three August starts he has a 1.89 ERA with 26 strikeouts and one walk.
And he would have left this one in line for a victory if not for Ian Happ’s error on a routine popup to second with one out in the third.
After J.T. Realmuto’s pop clanked off Happ’s glove, Jean Segura followed with a single to send Realmuto to third, and Scott Kingery then delivered a fly to deep left for the sacrifice fly that drove home the first run of the game.
Phillies starter Jason “knock you the [expletive] out, bro” Vargas had no-hit the Cubs through three at that point.
But Castellanos led off the fourth with a slower roller past the mound and through a shift-vacated hole on the right side for a single and eventually scored on Javy Baez’ one-out sacrifice fly.
Realmuto and Castellanos then traded solo homers in the fifth and sixth, respectively to help assure the bullpens would decide this one.