Burrell's blasts are Hill-toppers for Cubs

SportsPhiladelphia PhilliesChicago CubsCrimeCrime, Law and JusticeRyan TheriotBasketball

Rich Hill hit a speed bump for the first time this season as the Cubs crashed at Citizens Bank Park.

Struggling slugger Pat Burrell hit two home runs off Hill (4-2) and tied a career high with five RBIs in the Phillies' 7-2 victory over the Cubs.

Hill's five-inning stint was his shortest outing this season. It was only the second time in seven starts he has allowed more than two earned runs.

"You move on," Hill said. "It's something that happened, and it's part of the game."

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels (5-1) served up solo home runs to Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez but gave up only five other hits and two walks in seven innings.

It may be early, but the Milwaukee Brewers already are seven games ahead of the 16-17 Cubs and could run away with the NL Central Division if they continue to play as well as they have during the first six weeks.

"They're going to start getting a lot of attention and we'll have to see how they respond to that because they are a younger club," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "But give them all the kudos in the world. They've played good baseball."

Last year the Cubs were 15-18 after 33 games and 6 1/2 games out of first place. They wound up going 7-22 in May and were 13 1/2 out by June 1.

Unlike then-manager Dusty Baker, Piniella doesn't have to worry about his job status. But he does have to be concerned about a team that ranks near the top of the National League in pitching (fourth), hitting (second) and fielding (fifth) yet still is below the .500 mark.

The Cubs looked comfortable at the outset on an 82-degree night. Soriano's two-out home run off Hamels in the third put the Cubs on top and Ramirez added a leadoff homer in the fourth.

But Hill walked Aaron Rowand to lead off the Phillies' fourth, then hit Chase Utley with a pitch. Burrell's three-run homer followed to give the Phillies the lead. Burrell began the day with one home run in 97 at-bats.

Hill "was sailing along pretty well and he was throwing the ball well," Piniella said. "But in a small park like this, if you get people on via walks, you can do some damage. And they did."

A lack of clutch hitting was the Cubs' Achilles' heel again. The Cubs were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, wasting the few opportunities they had.

Soriano's one-out double and steal of third put the tying run in scoring position in the fifth and the Phillies played with the infield back, ready to concede a run. But Ryan Theriot struck out on a changeup well outside the zone and Derrek Lee grounded to third.

"This is what we were talking about in the coaches room," Piniella said. "Sooner or later, we have to start getting people in. The infield was back. And you give yourself a chance at least by swinging at a strike. … But chase a ball down in the dirt, that's not giving yourself a good chance."

Michael Barrett argued Theriot "unselfishly" let a good pitch go by for strike two to allow Soriano a chance to steal third before flailing away at the changeup.

"Ryan took an aggressive approach," Barrett said. "I know he was looking [for the changeup]. We were all looking for it. It was just that good [Friday]."

Angel Pagan's long flyout in the sixth killed another chance with two men on before Hill walked another leadoff hitter in the sixth. Burrell's second homer made it 5-2.

Utley added a two-run single off Neal Cotts in the seventh, making it two appearances in a row Cotts has been scored upon. He had started the season without giving up an earned run in his first 11 outings.

psullivan@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading