Phillies 12, Cubs 2

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Fireworks brought fans to the game, Tug McGraw brought them to their feet and the Philadelphia Phillies’ bats sent them home happy.

Placido Polanco had three hits and three RBIs and Brett Myers pitched into the seventh inning, leading the Phillies to a 12-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.

The Phillies have won 13 of 16, including eight of nine, to cut Atlanta’s lead in the NL East in half. Philadelphia moved within 4 1/2 games of the Braves, who lost to Montreal.

“We played an outstanding series against a team with great pitching,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.

Damian Miller hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who have lost seven of nine.

“This is no time for fragile psyches. It’s time to toughen up,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Jim Thome was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Marlon Byrd went 3-for-3 with two walks as the Phillies racked up 14 hits.

Myers (8-6) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings to win his third start in a row. Rheal Cormier got five outs, increasing his scoreless streak to 16 1-3 innings.

Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano (6-7) allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings. Zambrano had a 2.73 ERA in his previous nine starts.

“It’s exciting to play in front of a big crowd,” Myers said. “Every player wants to play as hard as we can to make them want to come back.”

A crowd of 57,326 turned out for the postgame fireworks at Veterans Stadium. It was the third-largest crowd of the season for the Phillies.

After the Cubs batted in the sixth, the fans gave a loud ovation to McGraw, a former Phillies and Mets reliever who is recovering from surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, when he went out to right field and changed the sign on the wall indicating the number of games remaining at the Vet.

Most of the Phillies emerged from the dugout, stood and cheered McGraw, one of the most popular players in team history. Bowa, McGraw’s teammate on the 1980 championship team, was the last to return to the dugout, clapping the entire time McGraw was on the field. The Phillies are moving into a new stadium next April and numerous former players and other baseball personnel have changed the sign this season.

“The last time I had anything like that was in 1980 with a little help from Willie Wilson,” said McGraw, who struck out Kansas City’s Wilson to clinch the Phillies’ only championship. “That’s as good as it gets, especially for a retired guy.”

Bowa said a few guys had tears in their eyes when they saw McGraw.

“It was very touching,” he said.

Philadelphia took a 5-2 lead in the fifth on consecutive doubles by Polanco, Jimmy Rollins and Thome. Byrd hit a one-out double. After Myers bounced out, Polanco, Rollins and Thome followed with their doubles.

Zambrano retired 10 of his first 11 batters before Rollins walked in the fourth. Thome followed with a single. After a wild pitch, Bobby Abreu hit a two-run double to tie it at 2.

“I made a couple mistakes and I paid for it,” Zambrano said.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Miller’s two-run shot in the second, an opposite-field drive into the right-center seats.

Zambrano cost the Cubs a run with a baserunning blunder in the fifth, going out of the baseline to break up a double play.

Thome hit an RBI double in the seventh off Mike Remlinger, and Ricky Ledee added an RBI single for a 7-2 lead. Polanco’s two-run triple off Antonio Alfonseca in the eighth made it 9-2. Juan Cruz issued bases-loaded walks toLedee, David Bell and Byrd to cap the scoring.

Notes

The Phillies (47-35) have won five straight series. … Byrd, a rookie CF, raised his average to .279. … Cubs RF Sammy Sosa has hit in six straight. … Cubs LF Moises Alou went 0-for-4 on his 37th birthday. He’s 3-for-28 in hislast seven games.

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