In a battle of "aces," Roy Halladay clearly trumped Carlos Zambrano.
Although there were a few cards left for the Cubs to play at the end, the Phillies walked away with the big pot Friday night in a 7-5 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
This was the marquee matchup of the weekend series. Halladay, the reigning Cy Young winner in the National League, was going up against Zambrano, the Cubs' best starter this year and one who had weathered another controversy this week.
Even though he had a vested interest, Cubs manager Mike Quade liked this matchup a lot going in.
"I would pay to see this game," Quade told reporters. "Hopefully it'll be all that we expect it to be. These are the kind of matchups I love. I'm really not a 10-9 guy. A lot of fans are, and that's fine, but I love watching two good pitchers work."
It didn't turn out as expected, and it wasn't until late that it turned into a 7-5 game.
Five days after Zambrano took off after his team as being "Triple-A," he was hardly sharp, giving up 7 hits and all 7 Phillies runs while walking seven and striking out five.
Once again, Quade's handling of his starting pitchers is sure to come into question.
Zambrano gave up a 2-run homer in the second to Domonic Brown to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Quade allowed Zambrano to take the mound in the seventh with 109 pitches thrown.
"I was asking him for way more than I would've in a normal situation," Quade said afterward.
For the third time in the game, Zambrano walked the leadoff hitter, this time putting Jimmy Rollins on. Two more walks, 1 intentional, loaded the bases later in the inning, and Placido Polanco made Zambrano pay by hitting a grand slam to left, putting the Phillies ahead 7-0.
Throughout this season, one of the main criticisms of Quade is that he's let his starting pitchers go one batter or one inning too long.
By the time Zambrano's night was finished, he had thrown a season-high 128 pitches.
"I worked hard to throw (that number of) pitches," he told reporters. "If they want me to pitch, I pitch. The bullpen was tired."
Zambrano found it easy to pinpoint the problem as he fell to 5-3 with a 4.40 ERA.
"Too many walks," he said. "You can't do that against teams like this. Next time I will make an adjustment."
As good as Zambrano has been for the Cubs this year, Halladay continues to be elite for the Phillies. He ran his record to 9-3 with a 2.39 ERA in snapping the Cubs' modest two-game winning streak.
The Cubs put a scare into the Phillies with a 5-run eighth inning against the bullpen, but Halladay remain unscathed.
"I definitely understand," he said of coming out of the game. "I want to go as far as I can but that makes sense. We have a long way to go and if you can save it, it pays off later."
As far as Zambrano remaining the "ace" of the Cubs, his manager said he's in no jeopardy of losing that title.
"His status is fine," Quade said. "I don't know where we'd be without him, that's for sure."