PHILADELPHIA — Big-hitting rookie Rhys Hoskins homered yet again — and he added a game-changing diving catch to his repertoire.
Hoskins went deep for the fifth straight game, and his stellar grab started a triple play in the fifth inning, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
“Their guy (Hoskins), who’s going to the Hall of Fame next week, makes another play,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He beats you with the bat. He beats you with the glove.”
Hoskins led off the eighth with a drive to left-center to give him 11 home runs in his first 18 games over 64 at-bats, becoming the fastest in major league history to reach 11 homers. Yankees Shane Spencer and Gary Sanchez, who previously shared the mark for fastest to 11 homers, needed 81 at-bats.
Hoskins, who has 24 RBIs, was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 10. He’s batting .297 and slugging .828, with 11 walks and 13 strikeouts.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young guy look that profound at home plate,” Maddon said. “Look at his walk to strikeouts. That’s the part that tells me he can sustain, not necessarily this pace, but he can sustain because he doesn’t strike out. He will accept his walks. He doesn’t expand the strike zone. He uses the whole field. He’s a big guy with short movements to the ball. Pretty impressive.”
Hoskins’ only blemish was a seventh-inning error after moving to first base.
“He made an error finally at first base to prove he is actually human,” Maddon said.
Hoskins is taking his early success in stride.
“Is anyone having deja vu?” he joked. “To be honest, I’m just coming to the ballpark every day with the same mindset. Good stuff just keeps happening.”
Nick Williams also homered for the Phillies, who have gone deep in nine straight games, hitting 20 homers over that span.
Nick Pivetta (5-9) allowed three runs on six hits in five innings to get the win. Hector Neris worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances.
Anthony Rizzo had a pair of RBIs for the NL Central-leading Cubs, who began play three games in front of Milwaukee.
FIFTH TO REMEMBER
The Phillies had a fifth inning to remember.
Rizzo walked and Tommy La Stella singled to begin the frame. Javier Baez then hit a sinking liner to left, and Hoskins made a diving catch.
Hoskins dropped the ball while transferring it out of his glove, but third base umpire Jerry Layne ruled right away it was a catch. Hoskins threw to second to double off Rizzo, who already was on third base, and second baseman Cesar Hernandez threw to first to get La Stella, who was caught in between first and second.
“The key to the game was when I put on the triple play sign,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin joked. “Without question, anytime something like that happens, it kind of gets everybody’s energy up.”
Maddon challenged Layne’s ruling that it was a catch, but the call was upheld after a replay delay of 2 minutes, 29 seconds.
Philadelphia capitalized on the momentum-changing play with five runs in the bottom of the fifth off John Lackey (10-10).
Pedro Florimon singled and went to third on Kris Bryant’s error at third base that allowed Cameron Rupp to reach first. Florimon scored on Lackey’s wild pitch, moving Rupp to second.
After Hernandez walked, both he and Rupp went to third on Lackey’s second wild pitch of the inning. They scored on Freddy Galvis’ single to right that tied the game at 3. Williams then drove a first-pitch, 91-mph fastball into the seats in right to give the Phillies a 5-3 advantage.
Lackey left after the fifth, giving up five runs — four earned — on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Hoskins tied a Phillies record with a homer in five straight games and set a rookie record for long balls in a month with 11 in August, bettering Ryan Howard’s 10 in September 2005. Chase Utley, in 2008, was the last Phillies player to homer in five straight contests. Philadelphia went on to win the World Series that season.
Cubs: Ben Zobrist went down in the first inning as he was rounding third base on Bryant’s single. He remained in the game after a visit from Maddon and the team trainer.
Cubs: Chicago opens a seven-game homestand with the first of three against the Pirates on Monday night with LHP Mike Montgomery (4-6, 3.43) making his 10th start. Montgomery, who moved to the rotation when Jon Lester (left shoulder) was placed on the DL on Aug. 18, is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last two starts. He will be opposed by RHP Trevor Williams (5-6, 4.40).
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (9-9, 3.58) looks to get back to form he displayed for much of the summer after going 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in his last two outings. Nola allowed one run on five hits in eight innings in a 3-1 win at Atlanta on June 6 in his lone outing against the Braves this season. Atlanta RHP Lucas Sims (2-3, 4.13) will oppose Nola.
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