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Cubs’ Alec Mills delivers a gem in first MLB start; Kris Bryant coming along

Alec Mills pitches Friday for the Cubs. (AP/Nam Y. Huh)

Did anybody show up Friday at Wrigley Field expecting a pitchers’ duel? What the Cubs’ Alec Mills and the Reds’ Matt Harvey did had to surprise a whole lot of people.

Mills, only 5-12 with a 4.84 ERA at Class AAA Iowa this season, was making his first start in the majors. And Harvey, right up until the start of the game, found his name swirling in trade rumors of the most immediate kind.

In the Cubs’ 3-2 victory, the duel of right-handers slightly favored Mills, who struck out eight, walked only one, allowed a single run and retired 14 batters in a row during a highly impressive stretch in his 5‰ innings. Harvey — two days after being claimed on revocable waivers by the Brewers, giving the Reds 48 hours to negotiate a trade — struck out six in 5„ innings of one-run ball.

The veteran Harvey will remain with the Reds until the end of the season and perhaps beyond. Mills, 26, almost surely will return to Iowa if lefty Mike Montgomery rejoins the rotation in time to start Wednesday against the Mets.

Montgomery went on the 10-day disabled list Aug. 14 with inflammation in his shoulder. He threw a bullpen session Friday and will do so again Sunday.

“[Montgomery] felt really good today, so we’ll wait until Sunday to figure out what to do next,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But Alec really permitted us to think different thoughts.”

Mills, who had his wife, mother, brother, sister-in-law, two aunts and a couple of buddies in the stands cheering for him, didn’t earn his first big-league victory, but he did get his first big-league hit. It was a not-so-screaming liner to right off Harvey for the Cubs’ first hit of the game.

“I think my eyes might’ve been closed,” he said.

Mills lowered the collective ERA of Cubs starters over the last eight games to 1.71.

Come back, kid

Third baseman Kris Bryant, who hasn’t played since July 24 as he works his way back from an injured left shoulder, hit in the indoor cages Friday. His session was moved inside because of pregame rain.

Maddon called it a good day for the 2016 MVP.


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“He was disappointed he could not hit on the field,” Maddon said. “But he felt really good about what he did, and I think he might be hitting on the field [Saturday].”

If that goes well, expect word of a rehab assignment to follow.

Rubbing elbows

Mills knows a thing or two about what a stress reaction in the elbow feels like.

“It’s not fun dealing with that,” he said. “I had it last year. It’s not a crazy-long recovery. It’s just not fun to do, and it’s definitely painful. So I can vouch for that.”

Vouch for Yu Darvish, that is. The Cubs right-hander’s stress reaction was revealed in an MRI exam earlier this week, ending his season and ending lengthy speculation about his condition.

“I was actually happy for him,” Mills said. “I think he was happy, too, to get a diagnosis.”