Cubs' plan for 'bullpen game' unravels late
PHILADELPHIA -- The forecast of rain Saturday prompted the Cubs to change their starting-pitching plans and opt for a bullpen game against the Phillies, which nearly worked before the pitchers they relied on late in the game faltered.
The Phillies rallied to score five runs (none earned) in the seventh against Justin Grimm, and then Cody Asche hit a two-run walk-off home run in the ninth off Hector Rondon to post a 7-5 victory over the Cubs.
Travis Wood started the game and was followed by Trevor Cahill, and the two each went three innings. That's the good news.
"Wood and Cahill did a wonderful job getting us to the point you want to be at, and then the guys you feel really reliable about," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It just didn't play for us tonight."
The Phillies trailed, 1-0, before their seventh-inning rally. With two outs, Grimm walked Aaron Altherr, and Andres Blanco reached on an uncharacteristic fielding bobble by Anthony Rizzo.
"I was going to first," Rizzo said. "I have to do a better job there. I messed up. We did a good job rallying back there, and just came up short.
"Maybe I took the ground ball for granted, slow chopper, maybe I tried to rush it a bit," Rizzo said. "It was kind of in an awkward area. Got to move on."
Ryan Howard followed with a pinch-hit RBI double to tie the game at 1. Grimm then walked pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic to load the bases, and also walked Darnell Sweeney to force in the tiebreaking run. Grimm exited, and Cesar Hernandez greeted Zac Rosscup with his three-run double to left-center, with all runs charged to Grimm.
"He couldn't have had better stuff than he had tonight -- it's impossible," Maddon said of Grimm. "I know he's going to be very upset. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He's got to be good for us to get to where we want to be. It's just unfortunate it didn't play tonight."
Rondon, the Cubs' closer, came into the game with a 0.35 ERA since the All-Star break, giving up just one earned run over 25 2/3 innings. He retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth but then walked Erik Kratz to set up pinch-hitter Asche's walk-off blast to right field on a first-pitch fastball.
"I walked the guy, and [Asche], he knows I throw fastball first pitch," Rondon said. "I missed the location a little bit, a little up and away. It is how it is."