It was one of those “bad with the good” kinds of games for the Cubs on Saturday. But they’ll take it, especially at home.
Plenty of things went badly, but enough good things happened for them to pull out a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies before a crowd of 36,410 at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs won for only the fourth time in the their past 21 games at home.
“They haven’t come around too often lately, so it was nice to get the lead (and the win),” manager Dale Sveum said.
Starlin Castro drove in the winning run with a sixth-inning home run, his first in a month, as Chicago overcame stranding 11 runners. Cole Gillespie added two RBIs, doubling his season total, to help offset the Cubs’ shaky defensive effort in the early going.
What looked like an intriguing pitching matchup between youngster Chris Rusin and former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee never materialized. Both starters struggled with control, and neither made it to the sixth inning or factored in the decision.
Rusin finished with a rather unique line in five innings of work. He allowed four hits — a home run, a triple, a double and a single — hit two batters and threw one wild pitch. He also walked three and struck out three in giving up three runs, two of which were earned.
The unearned run came in the third inning following a dropped catch by Anthony Rizzo at first that allowed Chase Utley to reach instead of being the inning’s final out. Utley reached second on a failed pickoff attempt when Rizzo’s throw was wide of second and scored on a Carlos Ruiz double.
Rusin walked the next batter but was able to escape without further damage.
“Last year I probably wouldn’t have been able to throw a strike after what happened,” Rusin said. “It’s a lot easier for me after having a couple games under my belt, knowing that I can be successful at that level.”
He faced more adversity in the fourth, when a slip by Gillespie in right field scored Lee on a Michael Young triple. But after walking Jimmy Rollins, Rusin dodged that jam by getting Utley to ground out to first.
“Rusin pitched really well — couple miscues cost him a couple runs but other than that didn’t square them up real good,” Sveum said. “Once again, Rusin did a nice job.”
Meanwhile, Lee needed 113 pitches to get through five innings but only surrendered three runs, also two earned. He gave up nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts in matching his shortest start of the season.
Lee never retired the Cubs in order, but couldn’t hold the 3-2 lead he was given in the fourth. Murphy led off with a double in the fifth and eventually scored on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Gillespie, who recorded his first multi-RBI game since July 10, 2010, when he played for Arizona.
With Lee pulled for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, the Cubs struck quickly against reliever Zach Miner. It only took two pitches for Castro to drill his eighth home run of the season, a 410-foot blast into the centerfield shrubs.
“Been a long time since that happened,” said Castro, whose last homer came July 31 against Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta. “I’m just trying to finish strong.”
Two sparkling defensive plays in the eighth helped erase the memories of the Cubs' early struggles. Gillespie had the first, charging in to make a diving catch on a line drive by Ruf.
Murphy then snared a rocket from John Mayberry at third for the second out. Kevin Frandsen grounded out to second to end the inning.
Five Cubs relievers slammed the door on the Phillies, retiring 11 consecutive and 12 of the final 13.
Kevin Gregg gave up a two-out single in the ninth but retired Rollins on a grounder to Rizzo to earn his 28th save.