Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Aramis Ramirez continued his hot streak with a game-winning solo home run in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs edged the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3, in the second of four games at Wrigley Field.
Ramirez, who was hitting just .165 following a game on June 25, has raised his batting average to .220 by going 24-for-64 in his last 16 games, including 3- for-4 on Friday. Marlon Byrd added a two-run homer for the Cubs, who won consecutive home games for the first time since June 16-17.
Ted Lilly was solid in the start, yielding three runs, four hits and a walk while fanning 10 over seven innings. Sean Marshall (6-2) earned the win for one perfect inning, and Carlos Marmol notched his 17th save.
Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer for the Phillies, who have dropped two straight following a four-game win streak to end the first half of the season. Shane Victorino also homered in defeat.
“We just need to get runs. We need to keep them from scoring runs,” Howard said. “Laws of baseball. Outscore the other team.”
Joe Blanton allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings. Ryan Madson (2-1) was dealt the loss for giving up Ramirez’s home run.
With Madson on the mound in the eighth, the first two Cubs batters were retired. Ramirez, however, hammered a 3-2 belt-high pitch into the left-field bleachers for a 4-3 Chicago advantage.
“Early in the count, I tried to go deep,” Ramirez said. “When I got to two strikes — he’s got good stuff — he just made a mistake.”
Marmol came in and struck out Jayson Werth, Howard and Francisco in succession to end the game.
The first three innings moved rather quickly, with the teams producing just one baserunner — a Byrd one-out single for Chicago in the second. He was erased on a subsequent Alfonso Soriano double play groundout.
The Phillies finally cracked the scoreboard in the fourth on Victorino’s one- out blast into the left-field bleachers, but the Cubs tied the game in the fifth.
Ramirez led off with a single, and Soriano worked a one-out walk. After both runners moved up on a groundout, Geovany Soto was intentionally walked to get to Lilly, who went down in the count 0-2 after a swinging strike. Blanton, though, issued three straight balls, then Lilly fought off a pitch down the middle. Blanton’s next pitch was just high, walking Lilly and forcing in Ramirez for a 1-1 score.
Both teams blasted a two-out, two-run homer in the sixth — Howard for the Phillies and Byrd for the Cubs — to keep the game tied, 3-3, heading to the seventh.
Chicago nearly went ahead in the seventh, as Starlin Castro led off with a single and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. Soto’s fly ball sent Castro to third with one out, but pinch-hitter Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot both struck out to end the threat.
The Cubs lead the season series, 3-1…Blanton struck out eight…Howard homered in back-to-back games for the third time this season, and he has 12 RBI in eight games…Victorino hit his 15th home run, setting a new career high.