Howard, Eickhoff lead Phillies over Cubs 3-2
PHILADELPHIA (AP) The old Ryan Howard showed up after a difficult week.
Howard hit a solo homer, Jerad Eickhoff threw seven impressive innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Eickhoff (3-8) allowed one run and two hits, striking out eight. Jeanmar Gomez pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and got the final six outs for his 19th save in 20 tries.
Howard hit his ninth homer way out to right-center to make it 2-0 in the fourth. The 2006 NL MVP started for the first time since a fan threw a plastic beer bottle at him after Saturday's game. Rookie Tommy Joseph has replaced the struggling Howard at first base and started the previous six games.
''I wasn't thinking about the week or the last 10 days,'' Howard said. ''I was just thinking about that moment. I got a good pitch, he hung me a breaking ball, and I was able to hit it out.''
Howard nearly went deep again in the eighth, but his fly ball to deep center was caught on the warning track. Though he's only batting .153, Howard has hit homers in four of Philadelphia's one-run victories, including two 1-0 wins and a walk-off homer in a 4-3 win.
''From what he's been going through, it was nice to see him hit that home run,'' manager Pete Mackanin said. ''I think it gave him a little more confidence. He almost had another one. Good to see.''
Kyle Hendricks (4-5) gave up two runs and four hits, striking out six in five innings.
Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera had RBI singles for the Phillies, who lost the first four games against the Cubs this season.
Trailing 3-1, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs against Hector Neris in the eighth. Gomez entered and retired Dexter Fowler on a sacrifice fly. Jason Heyward then grounded into a double play started by second baseman Andres Blanco, who made an excellent grab on the sharply hit ball and a nifty flip to shortstop Freddy Galvis.
''Wow, that was a special play,'' Mackanin said.
Gomez retired David Ross on a grounder to shortstop to end the game with runners on first and third.
''You don't have to try to do too much,'' Gomez said. ''Just attack the hitter because you need an out quickly.''
Batting third for the first time in his career, Galvis hit a two-out double in the first inning. Franco followed with an RBI single to right to make it 1-0.
Herrera's RBI single with two outs in the seventh increased the lead to 3-1.
Eickhoff kept the Cubs off-balance by changing speeds. He struck out Kris Bryant twice on slow curves.
''He was really good,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''Had good stuff and was able to throw his breaking ball for strikes. I know he's young but he's going to be good.''
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Howard's home run was the 366th of his career, tying him with Lance Berkman for 80th place on baseball's all-time list. His first-inning walk was the 695th of his career, moving him past Willie Jones into seventh place in franchise history.
The Cubs lead the majors with a 40-17 record while the Phillies improved to 29-30 with just their fifth win in 18 games.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler was placed on the 15-day DL because of a left hamstring strain. He was injured running to first base in Monday night's game. OF Albert Almora Jr. was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take his roster spot. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in his major league debut.
RHP John Lackey (6-2, 2.88 ERA) starts for the Cubs against Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (5-2, 3.67) on Wednesday afternoon.