PHILADELPHIA -- I didn't even wait for Jayson Werth's home run ball to land in the seats before I was out of mine and up the aisle and out into the parking lot. Trying to beat the horrendous traffic from the night before, you know. You could still hear the sounds of Green Day emanating from the Wachovia Center down the street from Citizens Bank Park, not to mention the loud cheering of the remnants of a sellout crowd of mostly Phillies fans (there were a few more Cubs fans last night, but we were still in the extreme minority).
Let's start with the good news. We got "good" Rich Harden last night and there appears to be something to the idea that the Cubs should start him only in night games, and primarily on the road. Harden gave up only four hits and struck out six in seven fine innings of work. Harden now has a 2.23 ERA in seven night-game starts (44.1 innings) and a 7.38 ERA in nine day-game starts (42.2 innings, virtually the same). Six HR allowed in night games, 11 in day games. 25 walks in day games, 13 in night games. Home-road, basically the same: seven road starts, 2.03 ERA, 7 HR and 14 walks, nine home starts, 7.59 ERA, 10 HR, 24 free passes. You get the idea. As much as the Cubs can, they'll try to slot his starts on the road, or at least in home night games.
Cubs relievers also rose to the task, at least for 5.2 innings of one-hit ball before Jeff Samardzija lost his command after retiring the first two hitters in the 13th inning without incident. Two walks -- making the Cubs' total seven -- preceded Werth's home run.
Joe Blanton matched Harden -- allowing one run in seven innings; the only difference was the method. Harden gave up a solo HR to Jimmy Rollins; Blanton, a single to Ryan Theriot and a RBI double to Kosuke Fukudome. Blanton wasn't fooling anyone; a large number of Cubs hit the ball hard but right at someone (particularly Pedro Feliz, who snagged several line drives at 3B).
Phillies relievers were just a little bit better than Cubs relievers, and that was the difference. The Cubs had only one baserunner after Blanton left the game, when Brad Lidge hit Aramis Ramirez with one out in the ninth inning (note to Lou: the Phillies put their closer in the game. Why didn't you?). He was quickly erased on a double play. Further note to the relief pitcher comment: the Phillies have on their staff Chan Ho Park, a former starter (he's started seven games this year and made 20 relief appearances) who can go several innings in a game like this one; his three shutout innings with five strikeouts helped save the Philly bullpen.
Paging Lou: you have a pitcher like this on your staff! His name is Sean Marshall, and he was wasted by throwing to two lefthanded hitters, then being yanked for Aaron Heilman. You can forgive me for thinking the game was over right then, but Heilman managed to squeeze out of the inning -- but not before issuing yet another walk, his 30th in 44 innings, raising his WHIP to 1.62, the highest it has been since his rookie year. Can we please just release him?
"You know what? We might need a couple hitters here at the trading deadline," Piniella said, then ended the postgame discussion.
We'll see. There are nine days left. Give the Phillies some credit -- they are, after all, the defending champions and the hottest team in the game. Let's break their ten-game winning streak this afternoon, get one game out of this series, and end the road trip with a 5-2 record. The pregame post will be up at 10:30 am CDT.