David Banks - USA Today Sports
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Steele, Contreras come through as Cubs top Marlins


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - Things have not been going well for the Chicago Cubs (42-63) as they returned to Wrigley Field after a 1-6 road trip. If there was ever a time for these Cubs to get hot, or at the very least rip off a strong homestand, this would be the time to do it.

Not only are all six of the games on this homestand winnable, but the Cubs kicked off a weekend set with the Miami Marlins (48-58), who were looking to play well at Wrigley Field once again. Over the past few seasons, records aside, the Marlins have given the Cubs some problems, and a big reason for that has to do with their strong starting pitching.

That was again on display Friday as Justin Steele and Edward Cabera were locked into an impressive pitching performance that saw both pitchers exit after the fifth with the score tied 0-0. It wasn't until the eighth inning when the Cubs came through in a big way as Willson Contreras delivered a game-winning two-run shot in the eighth inning to lift the Cubs to the 2-1 win.

Steele deserves a ton of credit for this win, as the left-hander was simply brilliant on the mound. Although his pitch count got in the way and forced him out after just 4 2/3 innings, Steele was as tough of a customer as you can have as he scattered four hits in his outing while walking one and striking out a career-high 10. Ever since he met with Jon Lester, Steele has been a different pitcher and one the Cubs can see in their rotation for years to come.

As good as Steele was, Cabrera was slightly better as he handcuffed the Cubs through five innings. Granted, he had three walks to go with eight strikeouts, Cabrera didn't allow a hit as he tossed five no-hit innings before giving way to the bullpen.

Two of the walks Cabrera allowed came in the first inning when Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom worked walks to put two runners on and one out. Cabrera managed to work out of that mini jam without any damage as Ian Happ lined into an inning-ending double play.

Outside of that first inning, the Cubs couldn't get anything going against Cabrera as the Marlins had a chance to strike first in the fourth. With one down in that inning, Jesus Aguilar reached first on a catcher's interference. That was followed by singles from Bryan De La Cruz, and JJ Bleday loaded the bases for the Marlins. Following a quick meeting on the mound, Steele bounced back and got through that fourth inning without allowing a run, as that was the turning point in the game.

In what was now a battle of the bullpens in the sixth inning, the Cubs had the first opportunity with Nick Madrigal picking up the Cubs first hit, followed by another Ortega double. Unfortunately, the offense was unable to cash in as a pair of strikeouts killed the rally and kept things tied 0-0.

With Erich Uelmen on to pitch the seventh, it was the Marlins who started to rally again, and this time they made sure they wouldn't fail. Charles Leblanc started that rally with a one-out single before a hit by pitch put two runners on base. Several pitches later saw Joey Wendle come through with a huge RBI hit as the Marlins cracked the score column first to take a 1-0 lead.

Miami continued to keep the pressure on in the eighth against Rowan Wick and Brandon Hughes as they put a pair of runners on base only to come away empty-handed. Running out of time, the Cubs were down to their final two at-bats as it was becoming a now or never moment for the offense.

Madrigal got things started with a leadoff single, bringing the winning run to the plate. With one down in the inning, Contreras did what he had done so often before, as his clutch home run gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead and sent the game into the ninth inning with that score. Wick took care of things from there as he retired the Marlins in order in the ninth inning to secure the win and ended the Cubs losing streak with a 2-1 victory.

The Cubs had four hits in the ball game as Madrigal was responsible for two. Contreras and Happ added the other two hits as the Cubs did what they had to do to win.

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