Phillies show life in series opener with Cubs; win 6-1

Eflin and Phillies look good against Cubs
It's difficult to avoid the dramatics when referring to the importance of the Phillies' series at Wrigley Field against a streaking Cubs squad that's one of the National League's elite.

Fresh off a disastrous weekend in San Francisco where the offense sputtered to a halt, the Phillies bats came alive Tuesday night and put up five runs on Cubs' hurler Kyle Hendricks en route to an impressive 6-1 victory.

It was like pushing the reset button on an old-school Nintendo system; a blink of an eye and you're starting with a fresh slate. The win leaves the window of possibility open for the Phillies to finish this tough 10-game road trip with a .500 record. The club is 3-5 on the swing with two more games in the Windy City. It'll be tough to do, but it's possible.

"Really good win for us tonight," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. "Especially to be so resilient and bounce back after that three-game series in San Francisco to show this kind of grit. We got back to a Phillies style of offense."

Beyond the offense, the spotlight was on Zach Eflin who entered Tuesday night riding a vicious three-game streak carrying an ERA over 8.00. Another dud performance meant he ran the serious risk of losing his spot in the starting rotation.

He tossed 105 pitches on the night, 75 for strikes.

"I think Eflin did a lot of work getting ready for this start," Kapler said. "I asked him to take a look at how he got left-handed batters out, a lot of people were having these conversations with it, and he went back and studied a lot of videos to get a sense for what his best pitches would be against left-handed batters. They had some dangerous left-handed hitters in their lineup tonight, no surprise, no secret. I thought he went after them very well. He went through that Cubs lineup pretty successfully."

Nick Williams put the Phillies on the board with a two-run homer to right field in the second, drilling a Kyle Hendricks 86-mph sinker that hung over too much of the plate.

After loading the bases to open the third, the Phillies went on the score three more runs with Williams, Carlos Santana, and Aaron Altherr each picking up an RBI.

Altherr pushed across another insurance run in the final frame, scoring Santana on a single to center.

After a weekend where nothing offensively went right, the Phillies finished Tuesday's contest with every player in the starting lineup collecting a hit.

"Doesn't happen that often, and I think it's worth noting as something special that happened tonight," Kapler said.

Up Next
Aaron Nola will make the start Wednesday as the Phillies aim to take the middle game of the three-game set. The Cubs counter with veteran left-hander Jose Quintana.

Division Watch
The Braves and Nationals each won Tuesday night, meaning the Phillies remain 2 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East entering Wednesday.

Rehabbing
J.P. Crawford finished 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI in his first rehab outing with triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's working his way back to the Phils after having dealt with a strained forearm.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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