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Phillies pounce early, but ease up on pedal

Inability to provide insurance leaves club vulnerable to big inning
Speical to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Producing early offense hasn't been an issue for the Phillies this season. Adding some insurance after that has, at times, been another matter entirely.

For the third straight game, the Phillies jumped out to a first-inning lead against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But unlike Monday night's 10-run outburst, in which they followed up a four-run first inning with a three-run second, the Phillies' offense didn't have the same punch in Wednesday night's 5-4 loss.

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CHICAGO -- Producing early offense hasn't been an issue for the Phillies this season. Adding some insurance after that has, at times, been another matter entirely.

For the third straight game, the Phillies jumped out to a first-inning lead against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But unlike Monday night's 10-run outburst, in which they followed up a four-run first inning with a three-run second, the Phillies' offense didn't have the same punch in Wednesday night's 5-4 loss.

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Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera delivered back-to-back RBI hits in the first as the Phillies jumped on Cubs starter Jake Arrieta for two quick runs. But after Freddy Galvis' RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth inning staked the Phillies to a 3-1 lead, Arrieta and the Cubs' bullpen limited the Phillies to just one more run.

Video: PHI@CHC: Herrera rips an RBI double into right-center

And once again, the Phillies -- who are tied for first in the Major Leagues with the Brewers with 28 first-inning runs -- the lack of offense after their first at-bat proved costly.

On Wednesday night, Arrieta had a lot to do with it.

"He is a good pitcher, and I wouldn't say that was his best performance, but it wasn't his worst, either," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He still pitched pretty well. We got to him a bit, but we couldn't continue to get to him."

Arrieta and Cubs relievers Koji Uehara and Hector Rondon combined to retire 12 straight Phillies hitters between the fourth and eighth innings. And although Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff was steady in allowing only five hits over 5 2/3 innings, a four-run Cubs sixth inning quickly shifted the momentum.

By the time Franco drove in his second run of the night with an RBI single in the eighth to get the Phillies to within 5-4, the damage had been done.

Video: PHI@CHC: Franco lines an RBI single to right

"I executed pitches [in the sixth inning], but I just didn't get the contact in the right spot," said Eickhoff, who dropped to 0-3 with the loss. "I got the right contact -- it just wasn't in the right spot."

Six of the Phillies' eight hits came in the first four innings, when they scored three of their four runs. And although Arrieta (4-1) wasn't as sharp as he has been in the past, he managed to limit the damage, especially after the first inning.

"They put some good swings on some pitches in the first," Arrieta said. "The Franco ball down the line was a well-executed pitch, and a good piece of hitting. I got off to a rough start, but after the first, I think I had three innings of 12 pitches or less, which was huge."

Once Arrieta settled in, the Phillies couldn't match their first-inning offensive energy and lost an early lead for the second straight night to fall to two games under. 500.

"We did what we could," Mackanin said, "but we came up a little bit short."

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera