Phillies crushed by Cubs, 8-3, in series finale at Wrigley Field
CHICAGO - Ben Revere was about to catch a line drive hit right at him when it looked like the ball pulled out a gun, shot him and then dashed off into the ivy in centerfield.
Jimmy Rollins retrieved a hard ground ball that caromed off pitcher A.J. Burnett, but Rollins did not step on the bag at second base for a forceout or throw to first base for a routine out.
Ryan Howard launched two hard-hit balls to the warning track and was robbed of an RBI hit in rightfield thanks to an exaggerated infield shift. Burnett walked six batters, including three of the first five batters he faced. And manager Ryne Sandberg lost the Phillies' first challenge play in franchise history.
All of the things that went right for the Phillies during the first 2 days in Chicago did not on the third and final day at Wrigley Field, where their season-opening, six-game road trip came to an end yesterday with an 8-3 loss to the Cubs.
"We want to play fundamental, sound and smart baseball," Sandberg said. "That's what we continue to stress and that's what we're striving for. That's the type of team we need to be."
Instead, the Phillies looked like the Cubs team they outscored 9-2 in the first two games of the series.
The hapless Cubs, who had one win in the first week of the season entering yesterday, sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning and scored four times. The game never got much closer for the Phils until a last-ditch rally in the ninth when they left the bases loaded.
When they exited the cramped confines of the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley en route for a plane home to Philly, the Phillies had split the season-opening six-pack of games in Texas and Chicago, 3-3.
"It could have easily been 4-2, or even 5-1," Rollins said. "Not a bad week, not a bad week, but it could have been better."
Yesterday's road-trip finale got off to a disastrous start when Burnett walked Emilio Bonifacio before Ryan Kalish followed with triple off the wall in right.
The next five batters: walk, sacrifice fly, walk, RBI double, sacrifice fly. Burnett, who put the Phillies in a 4-0 hole after the first inning, walked six batters in a game for the first time since July 18, 2011, when he was pitching for the New York Yankees.
"You aren't going to win games throwing balls," Burnett said. "I just didn't get it done, bottom line. I was pitching behind. That was embarrassing. I don't care who you are or who you play against, that's unacceptable."
Although the Phillies trailed 8-1 after six innings, the game wasn't an abomination.
Chase Utley knocked in another run with an RBI groundout in the fifth, and Sandberg challenged the call that Utley was out at first, but the review confirmed it. With his eighth-inning double, Utley has hit safely in all six games this season.
With a friendlier Wrigley Field wind, Howard might have hit two home runs and he scalded two others for outs to the outfield. Domonic Brown is 7-for-15 in his last four games.
The Phillies out-hit the Cubs, 8-6. But the trouble was securing one of those hits in a timely matter. The Phils were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
And then there was the sloppy play in the field.
After five innings, the Phillies trailed 4-1, a reachable deficit at Wrigley. But the Cubs' second batter of the sixth inning, Ryan Sweeney, hit a line drive at Revere, who appeared ready to make the catch, but the ball caromed off his glove and toward the ivy behind him.
"It was a Tim Wakefield knuckleball - it dropped," Revere said. "That thing just dropped. It had me cross-legged. It was tough . . . I've never seen a line drive like that."
After Burnett hit the next batter, he appeared to have what may have been an inning-ending doubleplay on a comebacker off the bat of Bonifacio. But the ball caromed off Burnett's glove, and by the time Rollins got the ball, his momentum pushed him away from second and he didn't have time to fire to first, so he didn't make a throw.
"I may have had [Bonifacio] if I barehanded it," Rollins said. "When I got the ball, I was even with the bag, but I was going so fast and I saw the bag, and at the same time I'm thinking I can step on this bag if I can stop. But I couldn't stop. When I looked up at Bonifacio, he was maybe a step from the bag."
"If it hit my glove," Burnett said, "I should've caught it. That's the way I look at it."
The Cubs scored four times in the inning to increase their lead to 8-1. The Phillies' offense stirred in the ninth, but Howard's last loud out landed in the glove of leftfielder Kalish, stranding two more runners in scoring position.
The Phillies return to the field tomorrow for their first game at Citizens Bank Park. The home opener had been scheduled for today, but was postponed early yesterday afternoon with rain in the forecast.
After splitting six games on the road, the Phillies will get the next 10 on their own turf with a chance to gain momentum in April, something they have not been able to do in the last two seasons.
"Walking away 9-1 would be the way I'd like to do it," Rollins said.
Why the one loss?
"You can't expect perfection," Rollins said. "Sometimes a team is going to have a good game. Today they had a real good game. Once that train got going, it was hard to stop."
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21