- Associated Press - Sunday, July 26, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs were able to laugh despite coming out on the losing end of a laugher.

With the game out of hand, catcher David Ross pitched a perfect ninth in the Cubs’ 11-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

The fans continued to cheer for Ross when he came up to bat to start the bottom of the ninth and the 38-year-old hit a solo home run to become the first Cubs reliever to homer since Carlos Marmol did against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 7, 2006.

“It was good to lighten the mood there at the end because nobody was feeling good about today at all,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Ross threw a scoreless inning in his other career pitching appearance May 9 against Milwaukee.

“My goal is to throw it right down the middle, see how fast (it goes).

“I know how hard hitting is judging from my batting average,” said Ross, who is batting .185. “I just try to throw it and hope they hit it at somebody.”

Ryan Howard homered for the second straight day, rookie Aaron Nola got his first major league win and Maikel Franco also went deep as the major league-worst Phillies got their eighth win in nine games since the All-Star break. Franco and Domonic Brown each drove in three runs a day after Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter against the Cubs.

Nola (1-1) allowed four runs in 7 2/3 innings in his second career start. The touted prospect also had an RBI single in Philadelphia’s three-run fourth.

“I wouldn’t say nervous, but I had some jitters at the beginning of the game,” Nola said. “After a couple of pitches, a couple of batters went by, I felt normal again.”

Chicago right-hander Jason Hammel was tagged for six runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings in his second outing since he was hampered by left hamstring tightness in a loss to St. Louis on July 8. He dropped to 0-3 with a 4.10 ERA in his last eight starts.

Hammel said his leg felt good and ditched a bulky brace after the first inning.

“That definitely wasn’t the way the weekend was supposed to go,” Hammel said. “My role today was just garbage. Unacceptable. Just too many pitches up in the zone and didn’t really stick with the game plan at all.”

Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler homered, but the Cubs lost for the fourth time in five games.

The 22-year-old Nola, the seventh overall selection in the 2014 draft, lost 1-0 to Tampa Bay in his major league debut last Tuesday. But he got plenty of support in this one.

Franco capped Philadelphia’s three-run first with a two-run drive to left for his first homer since June 23.

Fowler walked and scored on Kris Bryant’s sacrifice fly in the bottom half, and the Cubs added another run in the third on Fowler’s ninth homer. But the game quickly got out of hand from there.

“They absolutely stung everything,” Maddon said. “They were the better team for three days.”


Rookie Kyle Schwarber singled in the first inning for his first hit at Wrigley Field. His first 18 hits were in road games.

He has been sharing playing time with Ross. Maddon doesn’t want to overuse the promising catcher who’s hitting .396 with three homers in 16 games.

“He’s got two more months-plus to play yet here,” Maddon said. “You can’t take a young guys like that and just wring him out to dry. I’m telling you it goes away.”


Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (1-2, 4.28 ERA) is scheduled to start on Tuesday at Toronto.

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-5, 3.66 ERA) takes the mound on Monday at Wrigley Field against Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa (6-4, 4.62 ERA).

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