MILWAUKEE — Walks hurt the Cubs in Friday’s loss to the Brewers, but on Saturday, it was the long ball that sunk them.
With the score tied entering the bottom of the eighth inning, reliever Scott Effross was in to face Manny Pina, who had already gone deep against starter Justin Steele in the second.
Effross got ahead of Pina in the count, but on the third pitch of the at-bat, he hung a slider over the heart of the plate, and the Brewers catcher didn’t miss it. Pina’s second homer gave the Brewers the lead in their 6-4 victory. Five of Pina’s 12 homers this season have come against the Cubs.
Cubs pitchers allowed four solo homers. The Cubs got home runs from Ian Happ and Willson Contreras.
Steele didn’t have the worst performance during his four innings, but he struggled with his command. He walked four and struck out four.
“Just being a little bit more consistent with my delivery,’’ Steele said. ‘‘I felt like there were some moments in that start where I kind of lost my release point. I started trying to find different ways to find it again. I think in the fourth inning I kind of found it again and was starting to find a groove.”
Manager David Ross gave Steele a positive review.
“I thought it was good stuff,” Ross said. “I think we can clean up a little bit. Just getting in the zone a little bit more. The two-out walks, gotta be better in that area. But I thought the stuff was great. I thought the fastball looked really lively.”
Thompson’s return around the corner
Right-hander Keegan Thompson responded well after his bullpen session Friday and should make his return to the team in the coming days.
The plan for Thompson, who is on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, is to finish the season in the rotation.
He is 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA in 30 games but has a 10.57 ERA in three starts since entering the rotation in August.
“Keegan’s good,” Ross said. “We’ll kind of evaluate and talk about some things tonight after the game. See where everything stands, who’s healthy and how we use the pen. Probably make a move here in the next day or two.”
Adam makes return to the mound
Right-hander Jason Adam made his triumphant return to the mound for Triple-A Iowa on Friday night, tossing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
Adam suffered a nasty compound dislocation of his left ankle in May while fielding fly balls during batting practice in Des Moines and had to have emergency surgery to repair the damage.
Considering the severity of the injury, it looked like Adam’s season would be over, but he was able to work his way back.
He has a 2-1 record with a 5.06 ERA in 22 games with the Cubs since signing before the 2020 season.
“That’s great news,” Ross said. “Happy for him. That had to be a pretty tough road back. And I know that’s a pretty nasty injury.”