PHILADELPHIA — The loss of Emilio Bonifacio and the presence of lurking scouts will test the Cubs' focus leading up to at least the July 31 trade deadline.
And they could learn Saturday whether they could be without the services of closer Hector Rondon for an extended period.
Friday night, the Cubs responded with a series of encouraging developments leading to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park that relieved some of the pressure associated with their recent road woes.
Jake Arrieta showed signs he could move near the front of the rotation in the event of a trade by pitching seven innings of two-hit ball while extending his scoreless streak to 162/3 innings.
Starlin Castro gave Arrieta enough support with a two-run homer in the fourth and he made a dazzling stop to retire Ryan Howard and enable Arrieta to carry a no-hitter for 51/3 innings.
With Rondon sidelined because of elbow soreness, rookie Neil Ramirez was called upon in a save situation in the ninth. Ramirez allowed a run but fooled Carlos Ruiz on a curve with the tying and winning runs on base to preserve the victory.
"That's a moment for growth for a young guy like Neil," said Arrieta, who struck out nine and didn't allow a hit until Domonic Brown's double hit the left field line in the sixth.
This was the Cubs' first game since losing Bonifacio, their leadoff batter and most versatile player who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right rib cage inflammation. The Cubs will know more about the severity of the injury after receiving results of an MRI taken Friday in Chicago.
Chris Coghlan and Junior Lake will handle most of the leadoff duties in the meantime.
Rondon, who has seven saves, felt soreness in Pittsburgh and hasn't pitched since June 6. Manager Rick Renteria doesn't believe the injury was serious, but Rondon will throw a bullpen session to determine if he's healthy.
The Cubs (27-38), who won for only the 12th time in 36 road games, kept their cool after Roberto Hernandez hit Castro on the left arm with a pitch in the sixth by. Umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Hernandez immediately and also Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg for arguing about it.
"I don't think he did it on purpose," said Castro, who added Hernandez apologized. "He's a good friend of mine. I see him every day in the Dominican."
Crew chief Gary Cederstrom told a pool reporter he thought the appropriate action was taken.
Even with representatives from the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Reds in attendance scouting, Renteria is determined to maintain his concentration on an injury-riddled roster and not an anticipated overhaul in the upcoming weeks as scouts evaluate pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and others.
"I have to deal with the guys we have," Renteria said. "If and when or when and if something happens, we'll deal with it then. But right now, I have no need to burden myself with thinking six weeks down the road.''
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