By AARON BRACY | Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Castellanos' first season in Philadelphia has been a struggle, and his frustration boiled over Saturday night.
Nico Hoerner homered early and scored the tiebreaking run in a five-run 10th inning that sent the Chicago Cubs to a 6-2 victory over Castellanos and the Phillies.
Castellanos was booed by many in the crowd of 38,542 during another rough night at the plate. The outfielder signed a $100 million, five-year contract in the offseason after batting .309 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs last season for Cincinnati. But his average dipped to .245 after going 0 for 4 with a strikeout against the Cubs. He has eight homers and 46 RBIs.
“It is what it is, man. I don’t need to give an opinion on that,” Castellanos said when asked about the booing.
Castellanos called it a “stupid question” and got into a heated exchange with a longtime local beat writer.
“It’s just different,” he said of the pressure of playing in Philadelphia. “Nothing I can’t adapt to.”
With slugger Bryce Harper out indefinitely because of a broken left thumb, Philadelphia is looking for Castellanos to help fill the void left by the 2021 NL MVP as the Phillies chase their first postseason appearance since 2011.
Interim manager Rob Thomson said Friday he didn’t consider moving Castellanos out of the No. 3 hole, expecting that his numbers will look similar to career averages once the season ends.
“I haven’t been able to get on base,” Castellanos said. “Obviously, that’s frustrating.”
Hoerner began the 10th as the automatic runner on second base. He stole third with one out and scored on Frank Schwindel’s fielder’s choice. Schwindel hit a high chopper off José Alvarado (3-2), and third baseman Alec Bohm’s throw home was off target.
The Cubs went up by two on Christopher Morel’s RBI single. Bohm’s fielding error on Nelson Velázquez’s hard-hit grounder allowed two more runs to score before Willson Contreras added an RBI double to make it 6-1.
“Nice job by the guys putting balls in play,” said Cubs manager David Ross, who was ejected in the 10th.
Bohm drove in a run with a groundout in the bottom half.
Zack Wheeler threw seven strong innings for the Phillies, who are in the thick of the NL wild-card race but have dropped the first two games of the series to the lowly Cubs.
Chicago began play with the fourth-fewest wins in the majors but won its third in a row. The Cubs improved to 4-11 in their MLB-leading 15th extra-inning game.
David Robertson (3-0) tossed a perfect ninth for the win.
Wheeler and Marcus Stroman were both stellar in a starting pitchers’ duel. Wheeler allowed only Hoerner’s homer and two other hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
“Settled in after that,” Wheeler said of the homer.
After finishing as the NL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2021, the Philadelphia right-hander wasn’t selected for this year’s All-Star Game despite a strong first half. He continued to impress against the Cubs while lowering his season ERA to 2.78 with 114 strikeouts and 22 walks in 106 2/3 innings.
Stroman matched Wheeler, pitching into the seventh and giving up one run on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“He just found his sinker,” Ross said. “When you get starts like that, you feel like you’re in every ballgame. I thought he was very much in control.”
Darick Hall led off the seventh with a double against Stroman and scored on J.T. Realmuto’s single, ending the night for the Cubs’ starter after 86 pitches on a scorching evening that began with a game-time temperature of 97 degrees. Stroman lowered his road ERA to 2.30; he has a 7.94 mark at home.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the second when Hoerner drove an 89 mph slider into the seats in left. Morel’s sixth-inning double and Ian Happ’s seventh-inning single were the only other hits off Wheeler.
The Cubs threatened in the eighth when they loaded the bases with two outs. Thomson lifted lefty Brad Hand for right-hander Connor Brogdon to face the right-handed-hitting Contreras, and Brogdon got Contreras to pop out.
Philadelphia had a good chance to go ahead in the bottom half when pinch-hitter Matt Vierling led off with a double, but Steven Brault struck out NL home run leader Kyle Schwarber before Mychal Givens got Rhys Hoskins to ground out and Castellanos to strike out swinging.
ROSE TO APPEAR
Career hits leader Pete Rose will appear during Phillies alumni weekend on Aug. 7 alongside many of his teammates from Philadelphia’s 1980 World Series championship team. It will be the first appearance at a Phillies game for Rose since he was banned from baseball in 1989 for admitting to betting on major league games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
Ross was thrown out by plate umpire CB Bucknor for arguing after Patrick Wisdom was called out on strikes. Neither team appeared happy with Bucknor’s strike zone throughout the evening.
Morel entered leading NL rookies and third among all major league rookies in extra-base hits. He now has 25.
The Cubs signed eight of their first 10 selections in the amateur draft, including first-round pick Cade Horton. A 20-year-old right-hander selected No. 7 overall, Horton was 5-2 with a 4.86 ERA in 14 games for the University of Oklahoma last season.
The club also signed infielder Christopher Paciolla (third round) and right-handed pitchers Brandon Birdsell (fifth round), Will Frisch (sixth round), Nick Hull (seventh round), Mason McGwire (eighth round), Connor Noland (ninth round) and Brody McCollough (10th round).
Cubs: INF Nick Madrigal (left groin strain) went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa on Friday. Madrigal has been out since June 12.
Phillies: INF Nick Maton, sidelined since June 5 with a right shoulder sprain, continues to rehab at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Cubs LHP Drew Smyly (2-5, 4.22 ERA) opposes Phillies LHP Bailey Falter (0-2, 4.82) in the finale of the three-game series Sunday.
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