For awhile it looked like Chris Volstad would cure what ails the Phillies. A long-time punching bag when he was with the Marlins, the towering righthander did not disappoint early on, as the Phils tagged him for a quick 4-0 lead while batting around in the bottom of the first. That was all they would get off of Volstad though, who settled down and wound up giving the Cubs six innings.
As it turned out, those four runs almost weren't enough, but the Fightins got some timely hitting from one of the old heads.
Vance Worley did his job, allowing one earned over seven frames, but Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls gave up three in the eighth to knot the score. The night was beginning to resemble some oh-so-familiar territory in the month of April, during which they dropped several close games in the ninth inning or later, experiencing a devastating combination of ineffective relief pitching and untimely at bats.
That wasn't the case here. The Fightins came right back with two in the eighth, then shut down Chicago in the ninth.
Juan Pierre was plunked on the behind and awarded first base in the bottom half of the eighth. When Jimmy Rollins came up with two outs one batter later, the Cubs proceeded to become very concerned with Pierre attempting to run. After a series throwovers, J-Roll eventually got a chance to swing the bat, and made Chicago pay with a liner into right field. Placido Polanco then followed with undoubtedly his biggest hit of the season.
Polanco drove a Rafael Dolis offering deep to left field past Alfonso Soriano. By the time Soriano corralled the ball and fired it back into the infield, Pierre and Rollins had scored easily, and Polanco was standing on second. It was his third extra-base hit of the season, and accounts for two of his four RBIs in 2012.
Jonathan Papelbon came on to close out the ninth. He surrendered a lead-off walk, but it was smooth sailing from there. Pap sat the next three batters down in order, striking out Tony Campana looking to end the game, securing the 6-4 victory. It is already Papelbon's eighth save of the season.
A win is a win, even against the Cubs, but the big takeaway has to be escaping April just one game below .500 with an 11-12 record. For as awful a start to the season the Phillies have had, they are just 3.5 games back of the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East, this while playing without two of their biggest stars in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Speaking of the NL East, the Phils begin the first of three consecutive series against division rivals in Atlanta tomorrow, when Cole Hamels goes head-to-head with Brandon Beachy.
- The Phillies offense produced a strong all-around game. All eight of their starters produced on some level, most with at least one run or RBI -- the lone exception being Ty Wigginton, who had two hits. Carlos Ruiz and Pete Orr combined to knock three runs home from the seven and eight spots in the order.
- Qualls picked up the win despite giving up the game-tying, two-run homer to Bryan LaHair in the eighth.
- Volstad entered the game with a 2-5 record, and a horrific 5.88 ERA in 12 appearances versus the Phillies.