Eickhoff's 7 strong leads Phils past Cubs

Eickhoff's 7 strong leads Phils past Cubs

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies needed brilliant efforts from Jerad Eickhoff and Jeanmar Gomez to beat the Cubs on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Both delivered in a 3-2 victory over Chicago, preventing a season sweep, as the teams play the series and season finales Wednesday. Eickhoff allowed just two hits, one run, two walks and struck out eight over seven innings to give the Phillies just their fifth victory in their last 18 games. The Cubs threatened in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases with no outs, but Gomez replaced Hector Neris and allowed only one run to score to work out of the jam as he picked up his Major League-leading 19th save.

• Gomez rescues Phillies from late jam vs. Cubs

Gomez's save

"Wow," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "That was just a little loss for the Cubs, but it was a huge morale booster for us."

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard homered in his first start since May 31 to help the Phillies' offense.

"It's good," Howard said. "I wasn't thinking about the week or the past 10 days, I was just thinking about that moment. I got a good pitch to hit, he hung me a breaking ball and I was able to hit it out."

• Eickhoff stymies league-best Cubs lineup

Eickhoff's excellent start

 MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cubs don't hassle the Hoff: Eickhoff pitched a gem in a game the Phillies sorely needed. It was just the third time this season a starter had pitched seven or more innings and allowed one or fewer runs against the high-octane Cubs offense. Eickhoff, who has a 2.76 ERA (10 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings) in his last five starts, struck out six of seven batters at one point.

"He just made pitches," Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said. "All night I feel like we had good at-bats, got to 3-2 counts a lot. He was able to make some pitches and that was kinda it. We faced him recently. Hitters adjust, but he was able to make an adjustment tonight.

Hendricks strikes out Galvis

Hendricks' outing strong but short: Cubs manager Joe Maddon lifted his starting pitcher after only five innings and 81 pitches. Albert Almora, making his Major League debut, pinch-hit for Kyle Hendricks to lead off the sixth and grounded out. Hendricks struck out six and walked two, allowing only four hits. But the two runs he allowed were the most the Phillies have scored off a Cubs starter this season. In five starts and 35 1/3 innings, Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 1.27 ERA against the Phillies.

"I didn't want to take him out," Maddon said. "I just saw a real low scoring game there and I wanted us to have an opportunity to score. Almora gave us a good at-bat. I was just trying to get a point or two on the board right there, and that's the reason why I did it. Kyle could have pitched seven, eight, nine innings tonight. He was throwing great."

Blanco's 4-6-3 double play

Jeanmar, Freddy and Whitey: Things looked bleak for the Phillies in the eighth when the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to a Cesar Hernandez error and a couple hits allowed by Neris. But Gomez entered the game to pick up a six-out save and came up big. He allowed a sacrifice fly for the first out. Jason Heyward then hit a smash to Andres Blanco, who had just replaced Hernandez at second base. Blanco flipped the ball to Freddy Galvis, who threw to first to complete an incredible inning-ending and game-saving double play.

"I said, this is the guy I want to face the top of that lineup right now," Galvis said about Gomez. "He trusts his stuff. His ball has a lot of movement right now. He controls the ball. That's why he is so good."

• Cubs bats struggle against Eickhoff, Phillies

Montero's DP, Zobrist scores

Cubs' big bats silenced: The Cubs had to work just to score their one run of the evening off Eickhoff. Ben Zobrist walked to lead off the fifth, then he maneuvered his way around the bases on a Tommy La Stella single and subsequent double play to score Chicago's lone run. Cubs hitters were certifiably stifled by Eickhoff. They struck out eight times against him and reached base just four times through his seven innings. After loading the bases but only scoring one run in the eighth, the Cubs' two runs Tuesday night were more than three fewer than their per-game average.

"In our minds, ahead or behind, the game's not over, so we just keep going," Heyward said. "We feel like we always want to go up there, put up good at-bats, not give 'em away and make teams earn outs, and that's what they did tonight. If you get beat, I feel like that's how we want to get beat."

Fowler's sacrifice fly

QUOTABLE
"Nobody believes it. I was talking to Whitey [Blanco] and Jeanmar. This is going to sound weird, but he has no emotions. He's like really chill when he pitches." -- Galvis, on what has made Gomez so effective as the team's closer

• Almora realizes dream with Cubs callup

Zobrist's running catch

ALMORA DEBUTS
The Cubs' No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, Almora stepped into a Major League batter's box for the first time in Tuesday's game. The 22-year-old outfielder pinch-hit for Hendricks and grounded out to third.

"He was very calm," Maddon said. "I liked it. He walked up there nicely, was ready to go. He was not overwhelmed by anything. I know it's just one at-bat but I like the way he did it."

"I can't say it was [like any other at-bat]," Almora said. "It was a special moment. … Once I stepped in that box, it's a baseball game, no matter where I'm at."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Howard has been a hot topic of conversation lately as Mackanin benched him last week and a fan threw a beer bottle at him Saturday. But Howard, starting for the first time since May 31, hit a solo home run to right-center field in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. It was his 366th career homer, which ties him with Lance Berkman for 80th on the all-time list.

Herrera steals second

INSTANT REPLAY
Cubs reliever Clayton Richard caught Odubel Herrera between first and second on a pickoff move in the eighth inning. Herrera sped toward second after Richard tossed the ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo fired a throw to beat Herrera to second, but Herrera dodged Zobrist's tag. The Cubs challenged and it took 2 minutes, 45 seconds to uphold the call. Maddon is now 7-for-15 on challenges this season.

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: John Lackey (6-2, 2.88) starts the series finale for the Cubs at 12:05 p.m. CT. Over 14 innings in his last two starts, Lackey has allowed only one run. In his last three, Lackey's allowed four runs in 20 2/3 innings (0.77 ERA).

Phillies: Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez starts the series finale at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Cubs. Velasquez (5-2, 3.67 ERA) has not pitched more than five innings in each of his previous four starts, posting a 6.00 ERA.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.