The Phillies rallied for a run in the 9th inning to tie, and then watched Jeff Francoeur deliver at yet another clutch moment to win it in the 10th. Frenchy’s 9th homerun of the season, a 2-run blast, provided the winning runs in the Phils’ 5-3 series opening victory on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
For Francoeur, it was just the latest in a string of key performances at clutch moments that have increasingly endeared the 31-year old former mega-prospect, now journeyman, to the Phillies fan base.
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The top prospect in the game with the Atlanta Braves a decade ago, the Phils are his 7th organization in the last 7 seasons. These performances are making him an attractive candidate as the MLB trade deadline arrives a week from now.
The host Cubbies broke on top in the bottom of the 3rd when All-Star rookie Kris Bryant blasted his 13th homer, a line drive to left against Phils’ starting pitcher Jerome Williams, who was making his return to the team after missing more than a month due to an injury.
Williams would deliver 6 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 and walking one batter. He threw 59 strikes in his 83 total pitches on the afternoon.
After the Phils scored twice in the top of the 4th on a big Cody Asche 2-out, 2-strike, 2-run double to take the lead at 2-1, Williams was again victimized by the long ball in the bottom of the frame. This time it was former NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan delivering his 10th homer of the season, a 2-run shot to right.
That 3-2 Cubs lead held to the top of the 9th, with Jeanmar Gomez providing the Phillies bullpen with two shutout innings to keep it close. In that 9th, Freddy Galvis ripped a one-out triple into the right field corner off Cubs reliever Jason Motte, and scored the tying run when Asche followed with a ground-rule double into the ivy at the center field wall.
Ken Giles came on for the Phillies in the bottom of the 9th, and after allowing two baserunners among the first three batters, he struck out out Bryant swinging and coaxed another NL All-Star, Anthony Rizzo, into an easy 4-3 ground out.
All that action set the stage for Francoeur’s moment. Cesar Hernandez led off the Phils’ 10th with a single, and Ben Revere‘s sacrifice bunt got him to 2nd base. But Maikel Franco then struck out, bringing Francoeur to the plate with two outs. On an 0-1 pitch from reliever Rafael Soriano, he blasted a no-doubt shot into the left field stands.
The Phillies had the 5-3 lead, and that brought on closer Jonathan Papelbon to try to shut it down. With the trade deadline looming, Paps is another of the many Phillies auditioning for other clubs, and he has been another to do so with great success. That continued as the set the Cubs down, striking out David Ross swinging as a punctuation mark to his 17th Save in 17 chances.
On Saturday afternoon, it will be another of those big trade deadline pieces taking to the mound, as starter Cole Hamels, coming off two of the worst starts in his career, tries to right his ship and show that he is still the perfect fit for the top of some team’s starting rotation, including the Phillies own.