Cubs break out bats to cool Phillies
Four-run fourth ignites much-needed offensive uprising
PHILADELPHIA -- It's pretty simple, Lou Piniella said. You score runs, you win. You don't, you lose.
The Cubs scored enough Wednesday as Aramis Ramirez and Jeff Baker each hit two-run doubles to spark a 13-hit attack and help Carlos Zambrano notch his third straight win in a 10-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies' winning streak is over at 10.
"We need to score runs, I've said that many times," Piniella said. "Our last three losses, we've scored two, one and one. You've got to get a shutout to win, and it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. You've just got to score runs."
Former Cubs pitcher Jamie Moyer (9-7) took the loss. The Cubs rapped four straight singles off the 46-year-old lefty to begin the fourth, capped by Alfonso Soriano's RBI knock. Baker then smacked a two-run double, and Soriano, who reached third on the hit, scored on a throwing error by second baseman Chase Utley for a 4-0 lead. The Cubs had totaled two runs in 22 innings in the first two games against the defending World Series champs.
"Moyer's very crafty and has been pitching a long time and knows what he's doing, so he's going to keep you off balance," Milton Bradley said. "You had to manufacture runs the way he was working. You had to take singles -- he wasn't going to let you square up. It was a great job throughout the lineup, one through nine -- single, single, taking what he was giving you and putting the runs on the board."
Kevin Gregg picked up his 19th save, pitching 1 1/3 innings.
"This entire road trip was a great one for the bullpen," Gregg said.
Zambrano (7-4) struck out seven and gave up five runs, four earned, on a season-high 10 hits as the Cubs finished their first road trip of the second half with a 5-2 record. Of the seven games, the Cubs had only two quality starts by their pitchers.
"It's good to get some runs in your favor," Zambrano said. "It's more relaxing."
Ah, relax. That's what Piniella and hitting coach Von Joshua have been telling Bradley, who started for the first time in three games and added a one-out RBI single in the fifth to make it 5-0. It was his first game since his private session with Piniella in the cage.
"The main thing in the session was to try to get him to relax," Joshua said. "He's just rushing at the ball, to put it in a nutshell. We're trying to get him to relax and slow down. Once he does that, he'll be fine."
Wednesday was a good day.
"I always feel good," Bradley said. "I'm dumbfounded every time I don't get a hit."
Taking a deep breath is one way.
"Tony Perez used to wiggle his fingers," Joshua said. "The most common thing is to take three deep, slow breaths and get yourself relaxed.
"What we're trying to do is get rid of that little wiggle, wiggle, wiggle that he does [with his bat]. We worked on it the other day, and it's not going to change overnight. I think that causes a little tension with his grip and gets him a little tight before he goes to the ball."
If you watched Bradley closely on Wednesday, the wiggle was gone.
Ramirez was 2-for-18 on the road trip before Wednesday's game, in which he picked up two hits, including his two-run double in the seventh. He doesn't seem to be favoring his left shoulder, although Joshua did notice Ramirez cringed on one swing during the Washington series.
"I've noticed he's taken some swings where he's lost his balance," Joshua said. "He needs to calm it down just a little bit. I keep hearing he's 85, 90 percent healthy. He's still a threat up there. You can see how guys are pitching him. It's going to take a few days."
The Cubs still have a long way to go.
"It is frustrating," Joshua said. "I think guys are just trying too hard. I go and look at their videos and a lot of their swings, it looks like they're trying to hit the ball to the next county. Look at every one of the home runs Philadelphia got, it's almost in slow motion. That's what we're trying to get the guys to do is relax a little bit. It's tough to hit when you're not relaxed at the plate."
Last year, the Cubs led the National League and ranked second in the Majors in runs scored with 855. This year, they're on pace to total 674 runs with basically the same lineup.
"It makes you scratch your head," Joshua said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.