CHICAGO - So many leads, so few wins.
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Six games into this seven-game road trip that has taken them to two of baseball's most iconic ballparks - Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field - the Phillies have just one win and five losses.
And it's extra frustrating because they have held the lead at one point in the game in all five losses. They've blown several early leads and one big late lead - the boom, boom, boom, out-go-the-lights, ninth-inning loss in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The Phillies' latest loss was a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night and it was probably the next most galling after Saturday night's stunning walk-off loss in which Hector Neris allowed three homers on four pitches.
Jerad Eickhoff took a 3-1 lead to the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning. At that point in the game, he'd allowed just a pair of singles and two walks. But Eickhoff's solid start unraveled quickly and the Cubs capitalized on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a poor throw to put four two-out runs on the board and take a 5-4 lead (see Instant Replay).
The Cubs also had six hits in the inning. Ultimately, the biggest hit was Matt Szczur's two-out single up the middle. It scored Willson Contreras with the Cubs' fifth run and that proved huge after the Phillies rallied for a run in the eighth on a two-out double by Aaron Altherr (10 of his 18 hits are for extra bases) and an RBI single by Maikel Franco, who had three hits and two RBIs to break out of an 0-for-13 skid.
Szczur's hit came with Contreras on second base. Shortstop Freddy Galvis was able to halt the ball - a terrific play - before it skittered into center field. He alertly righted himself and looked to the plate after Contreras, thinking the ball had gotten through, rounded third and headed for home.
Contreras would have been a dead duck at the plate but Galvis' throw hit the pitcher's mound and bounced high, allowing Contreras to score.
"I anticipated him running," Galvis said. "I just bounced it off the mound. Ninety-nine percent of the time he's out if I don't bounce it off the mound."
Galvis' poor throw was one of several Phillies' miscues in the sixth inning. Relievers Joely Rodriguez and Edubray Ramos both crossed up catcher Andrew Knapp and one of the cross-ups resulted in a passed ball that allowed runners to move up to second and third and that proved costly as both of the runners scored on a two-run double by Contreras that scored the second and third runs of the innings.
The Cubs' first run in the inning came on an RBI single to left by Jason Heyward on a 3-0 pitch from Eickhoff. That was Eickhoff's 97th pitch of the game and Mackanin went to the lefty Rodriguez with lefty-hitting Miguel Montero due up. Mackanin knew that Cubs skipper Joe Maddon would send up the right-handed-hitting Contreras for Montero but he made the move anyway.
"It was Eickhoff's game but once he went 3-0 on Heyward, I just figured if you're doing that, you're losing command," Mackanin said. "I didn't want him to face Montero who already had a hit off him. So it was either Montero or go to Contreras and make [Maddon] use his other catcher. That's just the way it went."
Eickhoff would like to have had the chance to stay in the game and face Montero. He gave up two one-out hits in the inning - a bloop and a seeing-eye groundball - before Heyward's two-out RBI hit.
"That last inning I executed pitches and I got the right contact just not in the right spot," Eickhoff said. "That's what makes it sting a little more. I executed my pitch and got the contact I wanted. The hits were just out of the reach of where the guys were. So it's kind of frustrating.
"I was hoping [to stay in the game] but I wasted too many pitches early on. I was getting into deep counts, getting into three-ball counts way too many times and that can't happen. That's on me for not being able to save enough pitches for that late in the game."