LOS ANGELES — Left-hander Drew Smyly was the second Cubs starting pitcher to return from the injured list in as many games.
The Cubs activated Smyly to start Sunday against the Dodgers after a six-week stint on the 15-day injured list with a strained right oblique.
The Cubs fell 11-9 as the Dodgers completed a four-game sweep. But the returns of Smyly and right-hander Marcus Stroman, who returned Saturday, bode well for a rotation that has been short-handed for much of the season.
To make room for Smyly on the roster, the Cubs optioned reliever Michael Rucker to Triple-A Iowa.
‘‘[Smyly has] felt ahead of schedule since he started the rehab process back,’’ manager David Ross said of Smyly’s return from a notoriously unpredictable injury. ‘‘He’s a veteran guy that we put a lot of trust in, and he’s given us a ton of feedback. And it’s been nice. Been able to keep him off the 60-day, and now he’s back.’’
Smyly took the mound in the first inning with a 5-0 lead. The Cubs’ opening rally included catcher P.J. Higgins’ first career grand slam.
An already-long inning dragged on when Smyly allowed three runs, three hits and a leadoff walk. He and Dodgers starter Julio Urias combined to throw a whopping 81 pitches in the inning.
Smyly rebounded with a quick second, inducing grounders for all three outs. But when he gave up a leadoff double to Dodgers star Freddie Freeman in the third, his pitch count had climbed to 56, and Ross decided to pull him.
‘‘Tough first game back, obviously,’’ Smyly said. ‘‘Yeah, you want better results, but I don’t feel like I was getting hit around. . . . They do a really good job making pitchers work and getting the pitch count up. I was hoping to stay in [the game] in the third inning, but I think they were just being cautious.’’
Smyly was charged with four runs in two-plus innings.
The Dodgers rallied for six runs in the third, wiping away the Cubs’ lead, and they never trailed again.
Catcher Willson Contreras’ family received more good news Sunday. Two days after Contreras was named an All-Star starter for the National League, Major League Baseball announced his younger brother, William, had been voted into the All-Star Game via player balloting.
Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper, who was named an All-Star starter, will be inactive (broken thumb) for the game, so William Contreras — one of five Braves All-Star selections — will take Harper’s place in the starting lineup.
Willson and William Contreras are set to be the first brothers to appear in the same All-Star Game since Aaron and Bret Boone in 2003, the first on the same All-Star team since Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1998 and the first in the same starting lineup since the Alomar brothers in 1992.
Madrigal exits rehab game
Second baseman Nick Madrigal left a rehab game with Iowa after one at-bat. He was serving as the designated hitter as part of his ramp-up process.
The Cubs said Madrigal felt tightness in his groin, the injury that originally landed him on the IL about a month ago. He was set to get the issue checked out in Chicago as a precaution.