Phillies vs. Cubs: Kyle Schwarber hits 30th homer but Phils crushed

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Schwarber hits No. 30, but Phillies return from break with a clunker originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

There's been much chatter about how the Phillies will play a soft schedule coming out of the All-Star break and how it could work in their favor as they try to finally put an end to their annoying postseason drought.

The first softie came through the door at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night and the Phillies didn't exactly capitalize.

The Phils took an early lead when Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the first inning with his National League-leading 30th home run, but things turned ugly in the middle innings and they suffered a 15-2 loss to the lowly Chicago Cubs, who had lost nine of 10 coming in and are 21 games under .500 for the season.

The Cubs outhit the Phils, 19-6. Five of the Cubs' hits, including two home runs, came in the top of the ninth with backup catcher Garrett Stubbs on the mound.

Darick Hall livened things up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with a mammoth, 449-foot homer over the batter's eye in center field.

Other than that, there wasn't much for Phillies fans to cheer about, though there was this: St. Louis also lost so the Phils maintained control of the third and final NL wild-card spot. The Phils are 49-44.

One bad inning spoiled the bunch for the Phillies. It was a 1-1 game after four innings. The Cubs put six runs on the board in the fifth inning to take a commanding lead.

Starter Kyle Gibson was charged with five of the runs in the fifth and six overall. The right-hander had allowed just a run over 13 innings in his previous two starts.

Gibson walked two batters in the fifth, including Alfonso Rivas, the first batter of the frame. Christopher Morel followed with an RBI double to left which proved to be the turning point in the game.

The Phillies may or may not have had a play at the plate on Rivas. The ball certainly would have beaten him to catcher J.T. Realmuto, though it would have taken Realmuto toward first base. The ball did not go through as first baseman Rhys Hoskins cut the relay and tried to get Morel as he rounded second. Hoskins' throw to second was off target and allowed Morel to score as the Cubs took a 3-1 lead.

After the game, Hoskins said he cut the relay throw from shortstop Didi Gregorius because it was off-line. Center fielder Matt Vierling was covering second on the designed play to go after the baserunner.

After Hoskins' error, Gibson could not limit the damage. He gave up a one-out walk and a pair of singles as the Cubs went up, 4-1.

"It's frustrating because I feel like they only hit one ball hard in the inning," Gibson said. "Two walks in that inning hurt me. I need to avoid that."

With one out in the fifth, manager Rob Thomson went to his bullpen and reliever Jeurys Familia. The Cubs kept scoring on a pair of doubles by Nico Hoerner and Patrick Wisdom as they built a 7-1 lead.

The Cubs made it 10-1 with three runs against JoJo Romero in the eighth and poured it on in the ninth.

After Schwarber's leadoff homer in the first, the Phils had just five hits the rest of the night. No. 3 hitter Nick Castellanos grounded out four times and struck out once in five at-bats. He heard some boos after his ground out in the seventh.

Castellanos is hitting just .248 with a .664 OPS. More was expected when he signed a five-year, $100 million contract back in March and talked about how he hit baseballs for a living.

After the game, Thomson was asked where his commitment level for hitting Castellanos third in the order was.

"Pretty high right now," Thomson said. "He didn't have very good at bats tonight. He rolled over a few times, struck out in the ninth, but it's 15-2 at that point so I don't worry about that. He had better at-bats coming into the break, hit some balls hard. I still think at the end of the year his numbers will be similar to what they were last year."

A 15-2 loss in which the backup catcher had to mop up is easy to flush and the Phillies are pretty good at turning the page. They lost four in a row last week before sweeping the Marlins in Miami. They'll need a quick turnaround against the Cubs on Saturday night and it doesn't hurt that they'll have Zack Wheeler on the mound. He will face Marcus Stroman.

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