Cubs' bats struggle against Eickhoff, Phillies

Right-hander allowed just four to reach base over seven innings

Cubs' bats struggle against Eickhoff, Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- It's not often the Cubs don't score first. It's even less common for them to not score more than two runs, never lead and whiff eight times against an opposing starter.

Chicago couldn't figure out Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff enough to mount a single rally in any of his seven innings, eventually falling 3-2 to the Phillies on Tuesday night.

Eickhoff became only the fifth starter to go at least six innings, give up two runs or less and strike out eight or more against the Cubs this season. He joins Archie Bradley, Joe Ross, Drew Pomeranz and Julio Teheran to have such a showing against this intimidating Cubs lineup.

But the Cubs still won two of those games.

"In our minds, ahead or behind, the game's not over, so we just keep going," said Jason Heyward, who went 0-for-3 in Tuesday's loss, lowering his season average to .220.

Most nights that they score below their average of 5.35 runs, like this one, the Cubs' offense isn't so much shut down as it is contained -- or a couple hops away from hanging a very different number on the scoreboard.

Take Heyward's final at-bat, for example. The right fielder came to the plate with one out in the eighth and the tying run on second. He squared up a Jeanmar Gomez slider, only to find the back of Andres Blanco's glove, who flipped it to Freddy Galvis to turn a double play and end the inning, preserving the Phillies' 3-2 advantage.

"Story of the first three months for me, personally," Heyward said. "Everybody on the team wants to be in the spot, including myself. … If my ball goes through, one way or another, we tie it up. That's just the way it is. We feel like we always want to go up there, put up good at-bats, not give 'em away and make teams earn outs.

"That's what they did tonight. If you get beat, I feel like that's how we want to get beat."

The Cubs outscore their opponents in the first four innings by a score of 148-57. After the fourth, it's 155-105, a plus-50 margin in those innings than the plus-91 margin in the first four. One stat recently stuck out to manager Joe Maddon.

"We're a really good team when we score first," Maddon said of his team's 25-3 record when doing so. "But I saw a stat recently that we're the only team over .500 when we score second. Kind of interesting stat. I love that. It shows that when the other team gets up on us, we don't just cave."

Eickhoff's mix of his fastball, slider and curve kept the Cubs off balance while he was on the mound, allowing his Phils to score first. But the Cubs got some life once Philadelphia turned it over to the bullpen.

After having only four men reach base in the first seven innings against Eickhoff, the Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth against Hector Neris and put the tying run on third in the ninth against Gomez. But they only got one run to show for it, coming up one short.

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.