Utley Leads Phillies Past Cubs In Wrigley Opener
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CHICAGO (AP) — Chase Utley hit a two-run homer and an RBI single, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 7-2 on Friday in the opener of Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary season.
John Mayberry Jr. also had a two-run drive for his fourth career pinch-hit homer as Philadelphia bounced back after dropping the last two games of its opening series in Texas. Roberto Hernandez pitched into the sixth inning in his Phillies debut after signing a $4.5 million, one-year contract in the offseason.
Welington Castillo had a solo homer for the Cubs, who have dropped four consecutive home openers for the first time since 1991-94. Travis Wood (0-1) struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings, but was charged with four runs, three earned, and six hits.
Wrigley Field was all dressed up for the beginning of its centennial birthday party. There were big blue banners on each side of the red sign that welcomes visitors to the beloved ballpark, and fans headed to the outfield bleachers strolled past historical pictures from the Cubs’ longtime home.
The crowd of 38,283, wearing jackets and winter hats on a cold, blustery afternoon, roared when Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg joined fellow Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams on the mound for a ceremonial first pitch. Banks, Jenkins and Williams drew more cheers when they sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
“It’s a special day for me to be here, just for the festivities and the memories of opening days here,” said Sandberg, who spent 15 seasons in Chicago. “The fan base and the excitement opening day brought every year with the optimism that this is going to be the year. I thought that every single year.”
The Cubs are still waiting for that year. They last won the World Series in 1908, and many of their fans are more interested in the prospects in Chicago’s touted farm system than the players on the major league roster.
Hours before the home opener, one fan held up a sign near the Cubs’ dugout that read: “There’s Always Next Year.”
Chicago got off to a nice start when Castillo went deep in the second inning and Starlin Castro singled home a run in the third, but that was it for the Cubs’ offense.
Utley’s first homer of the season, a drive to right-center in the fifth, gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead. He also singled in Ben Revere in the seventh.
It was more than enough for Hernandez (1-0), who allowed two runs and three hits while throwing only 73 pitches in 5 1-3 innings. The 6-foot-4 right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Revere and Domonic Brown had three hits apiece as the Phillies ruined the first home game for rookie Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who was hired in November after Dale Sveum was fired following two lackluster seasons.
NOTES: Cubs 3B Mike Olt was out of the starting lineup after he hit his first major league homer in Thursday’s 3-2 victory in Pittsburgh. He was hampered by a sore right shoulder in spring training. “You’ve got to remember we’re still trying to protect Olt a little bit,” Renteria said. … Phillies LHP Cliff Lee (1-0, 14.40 ERA) faces Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-0, 0.00 ERA) on Saturday … Cubs OF prospect Jorge Soler injured a hamstring in his first game of the season with Double-A Tennessee. “We’ll probably get an MRI today and see how it is,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. … Renteria said the team is still deciding whether RHP Carlos Villanueva will start the series finale against the Phillies. Villanueva got the loss in Chicago’s first two games of the season.
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