Bullpen struggles as Cubs lose to Phillies

Caption
(PAUL BEATY (FRE))
The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano watches his two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth inning Wednesday at Wrigley Field. (AP photo)

CHICAGO – The names coming out of the Cubs bullpen changed. The results didn't.

Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning and the Philadelphia Phillies used Hector Luna's first career grand slam to pull away for a 9-2 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night.

With recently demoted closer Carlos Marmol on the disabled list and Kerry Wood struggling, the Cubs turned to Shawn Camp, Scott Maine, and Michael Bowden in the eighth and ninth innings. The trio combined to give up 7 runs.

"The fact of the matter is we have guys pitching in roles they probably shouldn't be pitching in," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It's tough. They've never had to do this before and they're thrown into this mix all of a sudden. It's not the easiest thing to do."

Hunter Pence opened the eighth with a long fly ball off Camp (2-2) that left fielder Alfonso Soriano caught on the warning track, delighting the Wrigley Field crowd of 38,678. But Ruiz followed with a bit longer drive that reached the bleachers in left for his seventh homer.

Maine, called up Wednesday from Triple-A Iowa, started the ninth inning. He allowed a double to Freddy Galvis before hitting and walking the next two batters. Sveum next called on Bowden, who gave up a two-run single to Ty Wigginton.

Luna later capped Philadelphia's six-run ninth inning with a drive to left in his first at-bat with the Phillies, who just promoted the backup infielder on Friday.

"We had all the matchups.Maine just couldn't throw a strike," Sveum said.

Kyle Kendrick pitched six sparkling innings in his first start in 12 days as Philadelphia returned to .500 for the first time since it beat Atlanta, 4-0, on May 3.

The right-hander allowed three hits, struck out four and walked none.

"Felt good tonight. Carlos (Ruiz) called a good game," Kendrick said. "I had a good game plan with these guys and it was nice to just be a part of a win."

Jose Contreras (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh, Antonio Bastardo worked the eighth and Raul Valdes finished the three-hitter.

The Cubs grabbed the lead in the fourth, taking advantage of an embarrassing error by Juan Pierre. With one out and none on, Bryan LaHair ended a 14-pitch at-bat with a routine fly ball to left that Pierre dropped. LaHair hustled over to second and Alfonso Soriano followed with a drive into the first row in left field, making it 2-1.

It was Soriano's second home run in as many days. He was still looking for his first homer before he connected in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 7-6 loss at St. Louis, ending a drought of 119 at-bats.

Another bright spot for the Cubs, who have now dropped four of six, was starting pitcher Matt Garza. Garza allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. It was his second start after recovering from an illness that caused him to miss a turn in the rotation earlier this month.

"Twelve days off, it was a pain," said Garza. "It wasn't like it was a vacation. (I'm) just trying to get my legs back, get into the swing of things."

Kendrick returned to the rotation after Vance Worley was sidelined with right elbow inflammation.

Philadelphia (19-19), which has won five consecutive NL East titles, is off to a slow start due in part to key injuries to sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who have yet to play this season. Third baseman Placido Polanco left Wednesday's victory with a bruised left knee.

The Phillies opened the scoring in the second inning with an RBI-double by Galvis and tied the game in the sixth on run-scoring infield single by Shane Victorino.

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