PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Aramis Ramirez is making a strong case for
some big money if he decides to become a free agent.
The second-place Phillies were eliminated from the NL East race
when the New York Mets beat Florida 4-0 earlier Monday night to
clinch the division title. Philadelphia entered play one game
behind the wild card-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pinch-hitter Jose Hernandez hit a grand slam in the fourth
inning to bring Philadelphia within two runs after trailing 8-0,
but five Cubs relievers held the Phillies scoreless over the last
Juan Pierre and Scott Moore hit solo homers for Chicago (62-89),
which has the NL's worst record.
Ramirez has three years remaining on his contract for $33.5
million, but he can void it after this season and test his value on
the free agent market. The Phillies would certainly be interested
in a right-handed power hitter who plays third base and can protect
slugger Ryan Howard in the lineup.
"I just go out and play my game," said Ramirez, who has 19
homers in 62 games since the All-Star break. "I let my agent do
the other stuff. Whatever happens, happens."
But the Phillies got six runs in the fourth. One run scored on a
passed ball by Henry Blanco and Chris Coste had an RBI single,
before Hernandez lined a 3-2 pitch from Marshall into the
left-field seats to clear the bases.
Hernandez, acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh last month,
pumped his fist before rounding first base as a towel-waving crowd
cheered wildly. The same fans began chanting E-A-G-L-E-S with the
Phillies batting in the sixth, even though the Eagles wasted a
17-point fourth-quarter lead in a 30-24 overtime loss to the New
York Giants on Sunday.
Moore connected against Brian Sanches in the fifth to make it
9-6 and the Phillies couldn't rally again.
"We had a bad game," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We have 12
more to play. This one is gone. We have to keep going."
Lieber, a 17-game winner in his first season with the Phillies,
failed to reach the sixth inning for the seventh time in 25 starts.
He gave up four earned runs and five hits in 2 1-3 innings.
Lieber didn't speak to reporters after the game.
"I've seen his better stuff," Manuel said.
Marshall gave up six runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings. Cubs
starters had thrown 25 1/3 scoreless innings before the Phillies
scored in the fourth.
Ramirez drove a 3-2 pitch into the left-center field seats to
give the Cubs a 3-0 lead before Lieber recorded an out. Lieber
dropped, then fumbled Pierre's leadoff bouncer for an error and
Ryan Theriot reached on a bunt single, before Ramirez went deep.
Pierre led off the third with his third homer and Ramirez had an
RBI single to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead.
"He's been swinging the bat great," Cubs manager Dusty Baker
said of Ramirez. "He's really finished strong."
The Phillies won a coin toss and would host a one-game
playoff against the Dodgers or San Diego Padres if they were tied
for the wild-card spot. ... Ramirez has a nine-game hitting streak.
He's batting .500 (17-for-34) in that span. Ramirez became the
sixth Cub to have 35 homers and 35 doubles in a season. He has 17
career multihomer games, four this year. ... Cubs SS Ronny Cedeno
extended his hitting streak to 12 games.