By Sam Bush

J. T. Realmuto homered and drove in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning to lift the Phillies to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The Phils remained 9 games out of first in the NL East and two games out of the last wild card spot.

Jason Vargas allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. Blake Parker (2-2) and Mike Morin each tossed a hitless inning and Hector Neris finished for his 21st save in 25 tries. Neris retired Jason Heyward on a grounder to end the game with two runners on.

Cubs starter Jose Quintana had a career-best 14 strikeouts in six innings, allowing two runs – one earned – and five hits. Chicago fell to 23-36 on the road. No other first-place team has a losing record away from home.

Pinch-hitter Andrew Knapp led off the bottom of the seventh with a single off Kyle Ryan (3-2) and scored from first when Realmuto hit a sharp grounder down the left-field line with two outs.

Quinn’s RBI triple with two outs in the eighth gave Philadelphia an insurance run.

The Phillies entered the game hitting .229 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

”We definitely feel as an offense we can do better,” Realmuto said. ”We have to carry the load.”

Realmuto hit his 16th homer the opposite way to right to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Nicholas Castellanos led off the sixth with his 16th homer to left to tie it at 2-2.

Scott Kingery’s sacrifice fly gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the third. Castellanos singled leading off the fourth and later scored on Javier Baez’s sac fly.