In order for the Phillies to be contention-worthy, the one thing they absolutely need to do is become a better road team. They took a stride in that direction Monday night with a 13-3 victory at Wrigley Field. The Phillies used 11 hits, including five home runs and three doubles, to send the Chicago Cubs to their 10th straight defeat.

Despite their recent struggles, the Cubs are 26-14 at home this season, and the Phillies before Monday were 12-22 on the road against teams with winning home records. With the win over the Cubs, the Phillies improved to 16-26 overall on the road, which is the ninth-worst road record in baseball. The eight teams worse than them all have losing records and six of the eight teams are in last place.

The Phillies have won just one of their 13 road series this season and they have also only won two games in a row on the road one time this season. They have only won three games in a row on the road one time in the last two seasons.

By winning Monday, the Phillies remained 4½ games behind the first-place New York Mets, who beat the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field.

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— Bob Brookover (extrainnings@inquirer.com)

Players need to force front office to be buyers

The Phillies will spend this week ahead of the All-Star break playing at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the two oldest and most famous ballparks in baseball. They will also spend this week trying to prove to Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski that they are still capable of being a contender despite their uneven trek through the first half of the season.

If they can climb above .500 and closer to the first-place Mets, Dombrowski will likely be a buyer at the July 31 trade deadline, looking primarily for bullpen help. If they continue to be an abysmal road team and lose even more ground to the Mets, it seems probable that Dombrowski will deal some veteran players in return for prospects.

“I think it starts with this week,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said after contributing his 19th home run of the season and three RBIs to the Phillies’ win over the Chicago Cubs Monday night. “There’s kind of that natural line obviously with the break, but we have this week and obviously a couple weeks before the deadline.

“We know where we stand. We know the Mets are 4½ games up and there are a couple teams right between us, but there have been crazier things that have happened in baseball. That’s a good week.”

And that’s a good point. The Phillies were seven out with 17 games to play when they won the first of their five straight NL East titles in 2007.

“Everybody knows the situation, but I don’t know if that changes much what we’re trying to do,” Hoskins said. “Obviously we’re trying to win and we’re trying to be in the best situation possible come the All-Star break and come the deadline and come Sept. 1 and then hopefully the playoffs. We have to put pressure on the front office. That’s our job as players, to see if we can get on a little run here and make them make tough decisions. That’s all we can do.”

Hoskins believes the Phillies might be able to turn things around starting with this road trip because their lineup is finally at full strength.

“We have kind of been waiting for everyone to get healthy,” Hoskins said. “One guy would come back and another guy would go down. Let’s knock on wood and hope that everyone stays healthy, but I think you can just kind of see the depth and the length of the lineup. All of a sudden you have me hitting a little bit further down and you have Didi [Gregorius] hitting fifth {Monday] and seventh [Sunday]. We have a guy [Alec Bohm] who was third in the rookie of the year voting last year hitting eighth, so there’s just length, and that wears on opposing pitchers.

“Each one of us has the ability to pop you, too, so there’s always a little bit of fear, too. I think [Monday] we kind of got it from everybody, but the design of the lineup is such that someone new gets to be the guy every single night. Obviously we’ll rely on our horses, but that’s what a deep lineup gives you.”

Perhaps it will also give Dombrowski a reason to be a buyer in the coming weeks.

The rundown

The New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom has been the best pitcher on the planet this season, but he’s unlikely to pitch in the All-Star Game because he’s scheduled to make his final start of the first half Sunday. That could leave the assignment to Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, reports Matt Breen.

Andrew McCutchen, batting out of the cleanup spot, continued to swing a scorching hot bat Monday night, contributing three hits, including a pair of doubles, during the Phillies’ rout of the Cubs.

A struggling Jake Arrieta will get the start for the Cubs against the Phillies and Aaron Nola Tuesday night. In addition to battling his former team, Arrieta will also be fighting to remain in the Chicago rotation.

Important dates

Tonight: Aaron Nola faces former Phillie Jake Arrieta, 8:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Ace Zack Wheeler goes up against Alec Mills, 8:05 p.m.

Thursday: Zach Eflin takes on Adbert Azolay in series finale with Cubs, 8:05 p.m.

Friday: Phillies open a three-game series against Boston at Fenway Park, 7:10 p.m.

Tuesday: All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, 7:30 p.m.

Stat of the day

Zack Wheeler could be the first Phillies pitcher to start for the National League in the All-Star Game since the late Roy Halladay in 2011. If it happens, he will also become just the seventh pitcher in franchise history to represent the team as the NL’s starting pitcher. The six who have already done it: Robin Roberts (1950, ‘51, ‘53, ‘54 and ‘55); Curt Simmons (1952 and ‘57), Steve Carlton (1979), Terry Mulholland (1993), Curt Schilling (1999), and Halladay (2011).

The National League is 7-4 when a Phillies pitcher has started the game, but no Phillies pitcher has ever started the game and also earned the victory. Simmons, however, took the loss in 1957 and Schilling, on an unforgettable night at Boston’s Fenway Park, was the loser in a start against Pedro Martinez, who struck out five of the six batters he faced.

Phillies pitchers are 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in their combined 11 All-Star starts. They have allowed 30 hits, including five home runs, and 13 walks while striking out 16 in 25 innings.

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.

Question: “Who was responsible for the evaluation of JP Crawford?

“The background for my question is that I think the decisions made around that time of the rebuild have greatly hampered the Phillies ability to improve the club today. It all started with the ill-advised signing of Carlos Santana. Making a free-agent splash to fill a position where we already had a competent player did not make sense. Then, when the error was recognized, the trade that was made to correct the error was to trade Santana and J.P. Crawford to Seattle for Jean Segura. The Phillies had a capable shortstop in Freddy Galvis who they let go because Crawford was to be our next shortstop. When it was time for Crawford to take over, the Phillies’ evaluators determined he could not be a shortstop in the majors. Since Crawford has left Philadelphia, he has won a gold glove, while playing shortstop, and he is currently batting leadoff with a batting average of .286 and an OBP of .348.

“Meanwhile, the player who got more starts at shortstop than J.P. in the year the evaluation was being done is now closer to being out of baseball than he is to being on a major-league roster. The resulting domino effect of the contracts for Segura and Didi Gregorius hampered the Phillies ability to improve our biggest weakness over the last 8 years — pitching. Crawford is meanwhile playing under his rookie level contract. Also, the Phillies struggle with finding a competent lead-off hitter while Crawford has flourished in that role.”

— Tom Z, via email

Answer: Thanks for your question/comments Tom. There’s a lot to unpack there, but I think your major points are that the Phillies gave up too soon on J.P. Crawford and it led to them making a series of other moves that have prevented them from upgrading the place where they are the weakest: the pitching department. To his credit, Crawford has become a solid big-league player for the Seattle Mariners after struggling through his first three big-league seasons with the Phillies. It’s certainly fair to say that the Phillies gave up too soon on Crawford because he was only 23 when they traded him, but Segura has been a solid player during his three seasons with the Phillies.

Your point that the money spent on Gregorius would have been better served on improving the bullpen is also a valid one. I think the questions you raise are a direct reflection of why Dave Dombrowski is now running baseball operations instead of Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail.