The first-ever big-league pitching matchup between a couple of Coles did not go well for either one. It did not end well for the Phillies either. Home runs by Anthony Rizzo, Albert Almora and Javier Baez accounted for all of the Chicago Cubs’ runs in an 8-4 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field.

Rookie Cole Irvin had been staked to an early 3-0 lead as the Phillies made life miserable for Cole Hamels in his first career start against his former team. J.T. Realmuto knocked in a run with a ground-rule double in the top of the first, an inning in which Hamels threw 33 pitches. The Phillies scored two more times in the third on RBI singles from Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez.

Irvin, however, gave it all back in the bottom of the third before he could record an out. After consecutive singles by Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant, Irvin fell behind in the count 3-0 to Rizzo, who took advantage of a green light from manager Joe Maddon and crushed a three-run homer off the neon red Budweiser sign high atop the scoreboard in right field.

Hamels escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but by that point he had thrown 99 pitches and his evening was over.

Irvin’s third career start came to an end with two outs in the bottom of the fifth after he allowed a single and two walks before surrendering a grand slam to Almora that put the Cubs ahead to stay. Irvin’s earned run average jumped from 2.77 to 5.60 and the Phillies’ lead in the N.L. East shrunk to 1 ½ games after the Atlanta Braves won in San Francisco.

Aaron Nola will try to salvage a split of the Phillies’ four-game series with the Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley Field.

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Aaron Nola is coming off a career-high 12 strikeouts in his last outing.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Aaron Nola is coming off a career-high 12 strikeouts in his last outing.

Aaron Nola needs to be an ace in series finale against Cubs

The first two months of Aaron Nola’s season have not gone exactly as planned, but he looked a lot more like a staff ace in his last outing Saturday when he held the Colorado Rockies to a single run over six innings while also matching a career high with 12 strikeouts.

A vital job of any team’s ace is to prevent long losing streaks and Nola will try to keep the Phillies from losing a third straight game to the Cubs when he goes to the mound Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Throughout his career, Nola has always done some of his best work after a Phillies loss. Fifty-three of his 103 career starts have come after the team has lost and his record is 24-13 with a 3.11 earned run average in those games. The team is 30-23 after a loss when Nola is on the mound.

Nola has been exceptional after Phillies losses over the last two seasons, going 11-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 21 starts. The team is 15-6 after losses when Nola has started the last two seasons. In those 21 games, Nola has allowed three runs or fewer 19 times, two runs or fewer 15 times and one run or fewer 12 times.

The Phillies will probably need that kind of performance Monday because Nola is facing Cubs lefty Jon Lester, who is 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA. Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez are the Phillies’ only four hitters with at least 10 at-bats against Lester and they are a combined 12-for-71 against him for a .169 batting average. Lester is 8-0 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phillies. They are the only team that has faced him 10 times without beating him.

The rundown

Cole Irvin admitted he had trouble locating his pitches in his third big-league start and that was a recipe for disaster in the Phillies’ 8-4 loss to the Cubs.

Before Cole Irvin’s shaky start Wednesday against the Cubs, Vince Velasquez claimed that the rookie lefty was pitching in the spot that still belonged to him. Manager Gabe Kapler did not agree with Velasquez’s assessment, but it does appear as if the righthander is ready to return from the injured list. It seems more than likely that Velasquez is headed for the bullpen where the Phillies could certainly use some depth and help.

After being heckled all night by the Bleacher Creatures at Wrigley Field Tuesday, Bryce Harper exacted his revenge by faking a throw to them after the final out of the bottom of the sixth inning. Instead, he fired the ball into the rooftop bleachers that sit beyond the old ballpark’s refurbished outfield walls. Our Matt Breen talked to Harper about his relationship with opposing fans when he is on the road.

Outfielder Nick Williams joined triple-A Lehigh Valley Wednesday after being optioned off the Phillies’ roster Sunday. Williams told our Marc Narducci that he was shocked by the demotion, but he vowed to maintain a positive attitude as he attempts to sharpen his stroke with the IronPigs.

Important dates

Today: Aaron Nola faces Jon Lester in series finale at Wrigley Field, 2:20 p.m.

Tomorrow: Jerad Eickhoff faces Chase Anderson in series opener at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m.

Saturday: Jake Arrieta vs. Jhoulys Chacin, 4:10 p.m.

Sunday: Zach Eflin vs. Brandon Woodruff in series finale with Brewers, 2:10 p.m.

Monday: Happy Memorial Day. Phillies are off.

Tommy Greene, left, during a 1993 mound meeting with Phillies catcher Darren Daulton. Greene pitched a no-hitter at Montreal on this date in 1991.
File Photograph
Tommy Greene, left, during a 1993 mound meeting with Phillies catcher Darren Daulton. Greene pitched a no-hitter at Montreal on this date in 1991.

Stat of the day

On this date in 1991, Tommy Greene, in just his 15th career start, pitched a no-hitter against the Montreal Expos in front of crowd of 8,833 at Olympic Stadium. He walked seven, struck out 10 and threw 130 pitches in a 2-0 Phillies victory. Greene faced the Expos again five days later at Veterans Stadium and pitched a three-hit shutout to beat them 12-0.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.

Question: I have been a Phillies and baseball fan since 1948 and have always been a person who is more comfortable with things as they are than with change. But with baseball, two traditional things really bother me. Number one is the N.L. not going to the DH. I am so frustrated when I see the Phillies load the bases only to have Nola or Arrieta coming up to bat instead of a DH. Do you think the N.L. will ever go with the more progressive A.L. on this? And, secondly, what does the future hold for high-tech calling of balls and strikes? There again, it is so frustrating to watch an ump consistently call balls and strikes incorrectly. No human no matter how well trained can consistently correctly do so. Tennis went to tech and once and for all ended the controversy of in or out. — Everett S. via email

Answer: Thanks for reading Everett and I love both questions. I do believe the designated hitter is coming to the National League in the near future and it could end up being a great benefit to the Phillies, prolonging Bryce Harper’s effectiveness when he gets near the end of his 13-year contract. I have mixed emotions about the DH because I think it removes so much strategy from the game. As for computer-called strikes, I would be a proponent of that change, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. Remember, baseball did not introduce replay until 2008, which was 22 years after the NFL started to rely on replays to help officiating crews.