Marcus Stroman throws four scoreless innings in return, but Cubs fall 4-2 to Dodgers

All-Star Willson Contreras was back in the lineup Saturday.

SHARE Marcus Stroman throws four scoreless innings in return, but Cubs fall 4-2 to Dodgers
Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman returned from the 15-day IL Saturday to start against the Dodgers.

Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman returned from the 15-day IL Saturday to start against the Dodgers.

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LOS ANGELES — Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman came off the 15-day injured list Saturday and right into a pitchers’ duel with Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Despite Stroman’s performance, the Cubs lost 4-2, falling behind 3-0 in the four-game series.

The Cubs were monitoring Stroman’s workload in the start. He’d built up to 50-55 pitches in his rehab outing last week. But he made the most of the 59 pitches he threw in four innings.

Stroman held the Dodgers, who sit atop the National League West, scoreless. He gave up only two singles and never allowed a runner into scoring position.

“I felt like [my stuff] was pretty good,” Stroman said. “I’ve been working, even when I’ve been away, just mechanically with our coaches here. I think we found some things to work on going forward to provide some consistency. So, I’m excited to see the results.”

Stroman spent about a month on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He traced the issue back to his quick buildup in May after a bout with COVID-19.

“Way better,” Stroman said of how he felt Saturday. “My arm’s pain free, my shoulder feels great.”

He estimated that he’d stretch his pitch count to 80-85 pitches in his next start and continue building from there.

To make room on the active roster for Stroman, the Cubs put lefty Justin Steele on the paternity list.

Manager David Ross announced after the game that lefty Drew Smyly (right oblique strain) was set to return from the 15-day IL to start Sunday.

Extra, extra

The Cubs played their 12th extra-inning game Friday, leading the majors in that category. And going into Saturday, three of their previous six games had gone into extras.

The Cubs have not fared well, going 3-9.

“The rewarding thing is we’ve been in a lot of tight games,” manager David Ross said early in the series. “These guys are getting playoff-type experience [facing] playoff-caliber teams: Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, the Yankees. We’re getting some real good experience this year that’s going to pay off in the long run for some of these young guys.”

Playing 10 innings the night before provided an added challenge for the Cubs, whose rotation remains banged up. Extra innings mean an extra toll on the bullpen.

Ross also used an extra pitcher Friday after an inning-extending error by Seiya Suzuki.

In what should’ve been an inning-ending play in the sixth, Dodgers cleanup hitter Will Smith sliced a fly ball to right field. Suzuki drifted under it, but it kept curling toward the line and glanced off his glove. The Dodgers scored their first run on the error, and Ross replaced starter Keegan Thompson with veteran Chris Martin.

It was only Suzuki’s second error. A five-time Nippon Professional Baseball gold glover, Suzuki is known for his solid defense, which made it more head-scratching.

“It’s a really hard game we’re playing; sometimes things happen,” Ross said.

“I’m sure he wished he would have caught it.”

Martin went back out in the seventh but didn’t finish the inning. After Martin gave up a solo home run to Jake Lamb and a triple to Gavin Lux, reliever Scott Effross replaced him and got the last out.

Injury updates

Catcher Willson Contreras returned to the lineup Saturday, batting second as the designated hitter, after missing four games with a tight left hamstring.

† Triple-A Iowa’s 10-1 win in Indianapolis featured two players in the second games of their rehab assignments.

Frank Schwindel (strained lower back) served as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4. Second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained left groin) went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored a run.

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