CHICAGO — The game paused Monday night for a few minutes as David Ross — the Cubs manager — stormed from the dugout to argue with the home-plate umpire. Bryce Harper had walked on six pitches to start the sixth inning of a 13-3 win and Ross, seeming to look for a way to spark his struggling team, became irate.
Some of the pitches could have been called strikes and the manager would be ejected, but it was the Phillies who became ignited at Wrigley Field.
Andrew McCutchen sliced a double to the right-field corner and Harper scored from first. Rhys Hoskins doubled in McCutchen and the Phillies — a day after losing by 10 runs — had a two-run lead. The bullpen did the rest as the Phillies won for the third time in four games.
McCutchen is heating up
McCutchen said last week that his bat seems to warm up with the weather. So far, he’s having a great summer.
McCutchen went 3-for-5 with two doubles and has raised his OPS (.787) by more than 100 points since June 1. His double in the sixth broke a 2-2 tie and his single in the eighth kept an eventual six-running inning churning.
“I told you, I like him in the RBI situations because I think he’s really good in those at-bats because he’s done it so much in his career,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think he tries to do too much. He’s patient and knows how to work counts and find a pitch to hit.”
He was one of baseball’s least productive hitters for the first two months of the season, but has since been one of the hottest hitters in the National League. When he’s going good, the lineup produces at a different pace. Since June 1, McCutchen has 26 hits in 87 at-bats. He entered June hitting just .201.
“He’s been able to stick with his approach since opening day,” Hoskins said. “He’s always been able to get on base, he’s really been doing that all year. Everyone that knows him and has been around him, knew at some point that the bat was going to come around. He’s done it his whole career. It’s really cool to see him go on the run that he’s on now.”
If the Phillies are sellers, McCutchen could be one of the players they opt to trade as he’s a free-agent after the season. But his production on nights like Monday could be what keeps them in the division race.
Brogdon’s big outs
Joe Girardi lifted Matt Moore for a pinch-hitter after four innings, which forced the Phils to lean heavily on their bullpen. Connor Brogdon stepped up. He gave the Phillies two key innings of relief as he retired all six batters he faced on just 27 pitches. The Phillies used Brogdon against the heart of the Cubs’ order as he started his night by facing Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez.
“That was huge,” Hoskins said. “… He kept the game close. In those tweener innings, that’s what those guys are supposed to do. Give the offense a chance to score some runs and that’s exactly what he did. It’s huge.”
Brogdon generated six swing-and-misses and picked up his lone strikeout by using his 96 mph fastball vs. Rizzo. Brogdon has looked electric at times this season, but he’s been inconsistent. He allowed runs in his two previous innings but had allowed just three base runners in his seven outings before that recent hiccup. When pitching the way he did Monday, Brogdon could be a late-inning weapon.
“I hope this gets him back on track,” Girardi said. “He has really good stuff. The fastball is 97, 98. He has a change-up that’s really, really good. His cutter has improved. Hopefully it just gets him back to throwing the ball like he’s capable of.”
The bridge to … Suarez?
Brogdon’s two innings cut the game to just three innings, which Girardi navigated by using Archie Bradley in the seventh and Jose Alvarado in the eighth. Girardi would have used Ranger Suarez for the ninth, but the game was no longer a save situation.
Girardi said before the game that he likes Suarez in the ninth and now could be finding more defined roles for Bradley and Alvarado, who were his first two options to close after Hector Neris lost his ninth-inning duties. Bradley retired three of the four batters he faced in the seventh but Alvarado allowed a homer in the eighth.
Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth as he worked for the first time since returning from the injured list.
The Phils gave the bullpen some extra comfort by scoring six times in the eighth inning. Brogdon and Bradley walked a tightrope, but Alvarado had a bit less pressure. Of the six runs, just one of which was earned as Ronald Torreyes’ reached on an error with the bases loaded that kept the inning alive and led to five runs. Two runs scored on the grounder by Torreyes and Odubel Herrera followed with a three-run homer.
The Phillies added three more runs in the ninth when Hoskins and Alec Bohm hit back-to-back homers against Eric Sogard, the infielder who committed the error on Torreyes’ grounder and was then tasked with pitching the ninth.
The Phillies will face Jake Arrieta on Tuesday night for the first time since he left the Phils as a free agent after last season. Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies. The Cubs have now lost 10 straight games.