Alec Mills watched as the Chicago Cubs got battered in back-to-back games by the Miami Marlins. Things sure were different this time.
Mills and three relievers combined on a shutout and Chicago bounced back from two lopsided losses to beat Miami 2-0 Sunday and avoid a sweep.
“A lot of us starters have similar repertoires, but I think we're all different in our own kind of way,” Mills said. “We kind of attacked maybe a little bit differently the first two days. I kind of changed it up, maybe worked a little bit more toward the inner half of the plate, especially against the righties."
Outscored 21-3 in the previous two days at Wrigley Field, the Cubs squeezed out the win despite managing just four hits. They also extended their season-high streak of scoring no more than three runs to eight games.
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But Chicago came out on top thanks to a solid start by Mills (3-1) and a perfect performance by the bullpen.
Marlins rookie Zach Thompson (1-2) took the hard-luck loss after holding the held the Cubs to one unearned run over four no-hit innings.
Pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom opened the fifth against Miami reliever Ross Detweiler by singling on the 15th pitch of the at-bat, hanging in after falling behind 0-2 and hitting nine foul balls to give himself more chances.
Wisdom later scored on Joc Pederson's singleto make it 2-0. The Cubs came away with the win after dropping five of six to fall into a first-place tie with Milwaukee in the NL Central.
MILLS, BULLPEN DOMINATE
Mills worked around six hits over five innings. The right-hander struck out three without a walk.
The bullpen shut down Miami the rest of the way, with Ryan Tepera throwing two innings and Andrew Chafin working the eighth before Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances. Kimbrel also tied Jonathan Papelbon for ninth on baseball's all-time saves list with 368.
It was just what the Cubs needed after getting knocked around for 10 or more runs in back-to-back home games for the first time since August 2015 against Detroit.
Thompson struck out seven and walked three in his third major league start. The 27-year-old right-hander threw 73 pitches, after beating Atlanta for his first career win eight days earlier.
“This will probably give me a lot of confidence knowing that I can pitch against a pretty good lineup,” Thompson said. “Whoever I'm facing, when you have 38,000 people screaming at you with a good lineup, being able to face these guys and do well against them, I mean, that's priceless for moving forward.”
Adam Duvall went 0 for 4 after joining Derrek Lee in 2002 and Giancarlo Stanton in 2016 as the only Marlins with back-to-back multi-homer games. Duvall hit a grand slam and two-run shot Friday and two more two-run drives on Saturday.
“Obviously, today's not the way we wanted to end it," manager Don Mattingly said. "But I think we did get back on track as far as being able to swing the bats.”
“It was very fun to battle like that. I get to first and the pitcher just kind of looks over at me and we just kind of made the eye contact, like, ‘Dang, what a battle.’ Obviously, I love to come out on top and spark that inning, get a run in. It was huge for us.” — Wisdom on his 15-pitch at-bat.
The Cubs selected LHP Kyle Ryan from Triple-A Iowa and optioned RHP Cory Abbott to Iowa. They also designated RHP Robert Stock for assignment.
Cubs: Manager David Ross acknowledged INF Matt Duffy's recovery from a strained lower back is taking longer than the Cubs expected. Duffy has not played since May 22. “It's something that's I think more of a chronic injury that we want to make sure that we take care of before we get him back,” Ross said. ... The Cubs hope to have 2B Nico Hoerner (strained left hamstring) start a rehab assignment in the next week to 10 days. ... LHP Justin Steele (right hamstring strain), sidelined since May 20, threw a bullpen session on Sunday.
Marlins: Miami opens a two-game series against Toronto at home on Tuesday, with RHP Sandy Alcantara (4-6, 3.09 ERA) starting for the Marlins and RHP Ross Stripling (2-4, 4.64) pitching for the Blue Jays. Alcantara lost 1-0 at St. Louis last week, when Paul Goldschmidt reached on an error by shortstop Jazz Chisholm Jr. leading off the ninth and scored on Yadier Molina's one-out single.
Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay (4-5, 4.06) returns from a blister on his right middle finger as the Cubs open a two-game series against Cleveland. RHP Aaron Civale (10-2, 3.48), tops in the majors in wins, starts for the Indians.
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