Phillies 4, Cubs 3

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Jim Thome probably won’t see many more good pitches to hit with a 3-0 count.

Thome’s two-run homer in the seventh inning led the Philadelphia Phillies to their sixth straight win, 4-3 over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Vicente Padilla (7-7) pitched seven strong innings as the Phillies won for the 11th time in 13 games to close within 5 1/2 games of first-place Atlanta in the NL East. Philadelphia was 10 games behind the Braves on June 18.

Leading 3-2 in the seventh, Cubs starter Shawn Estes retired the first two batters before Jimmy Rollins singled. Thome then lined a 3-0 pitch deep into the left-center field seats for his 21st homer and third in three games.

“I was thinking he didn’t want to walk me to put the tying run on second and fortunately I got something to hit,” Thome said. “I was looking to hit something in the gap to left-center.”

Estes said he figured Thome would be swinging so he tried to throw a pitch on the outside corner. He missed, leaving it over the middle.

“One bad pitch and it won the game,” Estes said.

“Everybody in the ballpark knew he would be swinging,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “The ball was supposed to be away. It was right down the heart of the plate.”

Padilla allowed three runs—two earned—and five hits in seven innings. He has allowed two earned runs or less and pitched at least seven innings in his last four starts.

Jose Mesa earned his 17th save in 20 opportunities with a scoreless ninth.

Estes (6-7) gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings. He also homered, helping Chicago take a 3-0 lead.

Terry Adams got two outs in the eighth and Dan Plesac retired Corey Patterson to end the inning with the tying run on second base, before giving way to Mesa.

Mesa has pitched in five straight games, including three innings in a 17-inning victory over Baltimore on Friday night.

“He’s a horse,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “He likes to pitch. He competes.”

The Cubs have lost five of six, and eight of 11.

“Mistakes are costing us late in games,” Baker said.

Estes gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the third when he hit Padilla’s first pitch over the left-center field fence for his first homer this season and fourth in his career.

Consecutive singles by Alex Gonzalez, Patterson and Sammy Sosa made it 2-0 in the fourth. After Moises Alou hit into a double play, Patterson scored on a passed ball by Mike Lieberthal for a 3-0 lead.

David Bell’s RBI single in the fourth made it 3-1, and Marlon Byrd cut it to 3-2 with a sacrifice fly.

“We’re getting timely hitting right now to go with our pitching,” Bowa


Estes’ homer was the fifth by a Cubs pitcher this year. Kerry Wood has two, and Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior each have one. The last time four Cubs pitchers homered in a season was 1970 when Ferguson Jenkins (3), Milt Pappas (2), Joe Decker (1) and Roberto Rodriguez (1) did it. … Thome extended his hitting streak to nine games. … The Phillies are 9-1 since rallying against John Smoltz on June 19, giving Atlanta’s closer his first loss of the season. … Padilla has walked just four batters in his last four starts, spanning 28 1-3 innings. … The Phillies are 11 games over .500 for the first time sinceAug. 28, 2001, when they were 71-60.

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