PHILADELPHIA – The weather cooled off in Philadelphia Sunday just in time to offer a reminder of how close the Cubs are creeping to October and how much they have to gain – and lose – with every game left on the schedule.
“That’s where it’s been kind of disappointing, because the Cardinals have been such a solid team, and they haven’t really lost eight out of 10 very often,” Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan said after the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the pedestrian Phillies. “You don’t really see spurts like that from them.
“So when you can win a game and playing a team here – no disrespect to them, because they’re professionals. But these are [series] we need to win three out of four. And then you would be able to make up more ground.”
Instead, the Cubs watched the scoreboard at Citizens Bank finally show the division-leading Cardinals victory Sunday, and for most of their game show the second-pace Pirates trailing.
So when the Cubs came back from a 4-1 deficit to tie — only to eventually lose and split a four-gamer against the worst team in baseball, it figured to add a bittersweet taste to some of the wings in Pittsburgh manager Joe Maddon and Co. planned to “annihilate” Sunday night.
Coghlan did his part, with a pair of triples and a home run in his first three at-bats, then adding a single in the ninth.
“I’ve never seen him hit the ball that hard in four or five consecutive at-bats,” Maddon said, including a shot to the warning track in the seventh. “On the field, the sound was different.”
“It wasn’t enough today,” said Coghlan, who has a career-high16 homers.
Left-hander Clayton Richard took over for struggling starter Dan Haren (three rough innings) and pitched four exceptional innings of relief but got tagged with the loss when – after the Cubs tied it – he allowed a triple with one out and a run-scoring, go-ahead wild-pitch with two in the seventh.
“He was outstanding,” said Maddon, who was asked if Richard might have earned a start down the stretch.
“I don’t know. I love him in the bullpen,” Maddon said.
When the Phillies asked the umpires to check the video on Coghlan’s second triple to determine whether a fan interfered at the top of the wall to turn the hit into a double, Maddon was all for it.
“I was happy about it because that opens up Pandora’s box, and maybe it’s a homer,” said Maddon, who got such a bonus out of an almost identical review request in Cincinnati earlier this year. “I think that’s what took so long, to determine whether the ball was actually over the fence or not.”
The original call was upheld.
Right-fielder Jorge Soler (oblique) has progressed well enough that he’s playing with Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League playoffs on a rehab assignment, but Maddon said he’s still not sure what the big rookie’s status is – for his return or playing time after returning.
“Austin [Jackson] changes things a big so we’ll have to see how that plays out,” Maddon said of the outfielder acquired Aug. 31 from Seattle.