CHICAGO — Willson Contreras doesn’t need to start to have an impact for the Chicago Cubs.
The second-year catcher delivered a two-out pinch-hit double, the key hit in a four-run sixth inning, as Chicago claimed a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
“The pinch hit by Willson was very, very big,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He plays with his hair on fire, and sometimes it can actually work against him and he gets over assertive.”
But Contreras was in perfect sync with the moment. He laced a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Joely Rodriguez into the left-field corner to drive home Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward with the tying and go-ahead runs.
Playing in his 99th big league game, Contreras produced is first pinch hit and RBI since a home run in his first plate appearance on July 19, 2016, vs. Pittsburgh.
The victory was the second straight for Chicago (15-12) and gave right-hander Jake Arrieta (4-1) his second victory in three starts.
“I wouldn’t say that was (Arrieta’s) best performance, but it wasn’t his worst either,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He still pitched pretty well. We got to him a bit, but we couldn’t continue to get to him.”
The Phillies (12-14) dropped their second straight.
Closer Wade Davis, the fourth Cubs pitcher of the night, faced four batters in a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (0-3) took the loss after sailing through five innings before getting into trouble.
Eickhoff departed with two outs in the sixth after he put two runners on base and Heyward singled home Anthony Rizzo to trim the Cubs’ deficit to 3-2.
“It was Eickhoff’s game so I let him face Heyward,” Mackanin said. “When he went to 3-0, that sent a message to me that he just wasn’t sharp. And then (Heyward) got that lazy hit.”
Rodriguez entered, and his passed ball advanced Zobrist to third and Heyward to second to set up Contreras for his two-run double and a 4-3 Cubs lead.
Rodriguez was promptly pulled for right-hander Edubray Ramos, who gave up a run-scoring single as Matt Szczur — pinch-hitting for Arrieta — drove in Contreras for a 5-3 lead.
The Phillies got one run back with two outs in the eighth when Maikel Franco, who went 3-for-4, singled home Aaron Altheer off Cubs reliever Hector Rondon to make it 5-4.
Arrieta allowed three earned runs, six hits and one walk while striking out seven in his six-inning outing.
“They put some good swings on some pitches in the first,” Arrieta said. “Just got off to a rough start. But after the first, I think had three innings of 12 pitches or less, which was huge.”
Eickhoff gave up four runs, five hits and two walks, with five strikeouts, as his winless streak reached six for the Phillies.
The Phillies grabbed a quick lead with their 27th and 28th first-inning runs of the season to tie idle Milwaukee for the major league lead.
Daniel Nava walked, stole second and scored on Franco’s single to shallow right. Franco came home on Odubel Herrera’s two-out base hit to right to make it 2-0.
The Cubs got one run back in the second as Heyward walked, reached second on Miguel Montero’s base hit and scored on Arrieta’s grounder to Eickhoff.
The Phillies had Franco at third after Brock Stassi’s double with one out in the fourth, and Franco scored for a 3-1 lead on Freddy Galvis’ sacrifice fly to center.
NOTES: Phillies RHP Aaron Nola will likely miss Friday’s start at home after a scheduled precautionary MRI on Thursday. He experienced some back discomfort this week. … Phillies OF Howie Kendrick, on the disabled list since April 16 with a right abdominal strain, is moving closer to a return. He has been hitting off a tee and doing some soft throwing, according to manager Pete Mackanin. … Philadelphia sends out RHP Zach Eflin (0-0, 1.89 ERA) for his fourth start of the season on Thursday. He’ll face Chicago RHP John Lackey (2-3, 5.10 ERA). … The four hits on Tuesday by Cubs 2B Javier Baez were the most out of the Cubs’ No. 9 position since RHP Don Cardwell had four on June 30, 1960. … Flags atop the Cubs’ 2016 World Series trophy reportedly were damaged while passed around during a charity concert in Boston last week. The event was hosted by club president Theo Epstein. The damage was quickly fixed, according to reports. … RHP Koji Uehara pitched in his 400th career game, with one inning of relief.