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Phils' win streak snapped in frustrating opener

Rollins keys late rally that falls short; Hernandez, Sandberg ejected

PHILADELPHIA -- The four-game winning streak remains an elusive one for the Phillies.

It is why they are where they are.

They lost Friday to the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, 2-1, which snapped a modest three-game winning streak. The Phillies hoped to pick up their first four-game winning streak since June 2-6, 2013, when they won five consecutive games.

"We haven't been doing a lot of winning," Jimmy Rollins said. "Streaks, that is. In general, the same. But definitely not in streaks. But we've got a chance to put something together, win the series and go on the road."

Rollins almost ignited a late-inning comeback. He started the ninth inning with a leadoff double to right field, which moved him into a tie with Mike Schmidt for the franchise's all-time hits record. The Hall of Fame third baseman and greatest shortstop in franchise history sit at 2,234 hits.

Rollins could break the record Saturday afternoon.

"I'm waiting right along with everyone else," Rollins said. "It has been fun though. The last four days, honestly, we've played some good baseball. Even if we didn't have a lot of hits, we had been finding a way to win. Tonight [that] wasn't the case, but I like the way we are going about handling our business. That's part of it, it's nice to do it. Hopefully tomorrow is a day where we get a win."

Rollins scored on Domonic Brown's two-out single to right field, but with runners at the corners, home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger called out Carlos Ruiz on strikes.

Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez cruised through three innings, striking out five and retiring nine of the first 11 batters he faced. But he opened the fourth inning with a four-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo. Three pitches later, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro ripped a 1-1 high-and-inside fastball to left-center field for a two-run home run to make it 2-0.

"It was like [Castro] ... was playing with a video game," Hernandez said. "I don't know how he hit that ball for a home run."

Ripperger remembered the homer, because seconds after Hernandez hit Castro with an inside first-pitch fastball with two outs in the sixth inning, he ejected him.

"I thought the appropriate action was taken," crew chief Gary Cederstrom told a pool reporter.

Nevermind it was a 2-0 game.

Nevermind Hernandez had thrown just 81 pitches and had been trying to pitch past the sixth inning for just the third time in 12 starts.

"I had two outs," Hernandez said. "I wanted to pitch into the next inning. I didn't throw it on purpose. I wanted to keep pitching. I was surprised."

Nevermind Castro and Hernandez know each other well.

"I don't think he did it on purpose," Castro said. "He's a good friend of mine. I know him a lot. I see him every day in the Dominican."

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg jogged onto the field for an explanation, but Ripperger ejected him shortly thereafter. Cubs manager Rick Renteria also said Hernandez was not throwing intentionally at Castro.

Of course, that is not why the Phillies lost. They could not get anything going offensively against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, who allowed two hits, one walk and struck out nine in seven scoreless innings. He held the Phillies hitless through four-plus innings with only one ball leaving the infield -- Rollins' flyout to left field in the first.

Reid Brignac worked a walk with one out in the third for the team's only baserunner through four.

Brown ended Arrieta's no-hit bid when he dropped a ball on the left-field line with one out in the fifth inning. Brown cruised into second base for a double, but Ruiz grounded out and Brignac flied out to end the inning.

The Phillies came close in the ninth, but not close enough.

"A little too little and a little too late," Sandberg said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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