CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs are pushing for an NL wild card, and Javier Assad just wants to help in whatever way he can. Same goes for Miles Mastrobuoni.
Assad and Mastrobuoni — two of the team’s most anonymous players — both delivered in a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Assad pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Marcus Stroman, and Mastrobuoni had two hits and scored two runs.
“Big win to build off of, for everyone,” said Mastrobuoni, who is 8 for 15 in the last four games.
Cody Bellinger hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly as Chicago (81-74) earned its second straight win after a stretch of seven losses in eight games. It moved within a half-game of Arizona for the second NL wild card and ensured it would hold onto sole possession of the third spot for at least another day.
“Everything just went our way,” Assad said through a translator. “Everything went well, and thankfully, was able to contribute to the team.”
Colorado (56-98) wasted a solid performance by Chris Flexen, who pitched five innings of two-run ball. Ezequiel Tovar had three hits for the Rockies on the one-year anniversary of the big league debut for the touted shortstop prospect.
Colorado dropped to a major league-worst 22-58 on the road.
“There was some good things today, but ultimately the walks came back to haunt us,” manager Bud Black said.
The Rockies led 3-1 before the Cubs began to rally. Nico Hoerner hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Yan Gomes drove in Seiya Suzuki with a tying double in the sixth.
After Nick Mears (0-1) began the seventh with three straight walks on 13 pitches, Bellinger put Chicago in front when he greeted Justin Lawrence with a fly ball to the warning track in left.
Christopher Morel led off the eighth with his 25th homer, and Hoerner singled home Mastrobuoni for another insurance run. Hoerner finished with two hits and two RBIs.
Stroman pitched three innings of three-run ball for the Cubs in his first start since July 31. The All-Star right-hander was sidelined by hip inflammation and a right rib cartilage fracture, and then made two relief appearances after he was activated on Sept. 15.
“I felt like my mechanics just kind of came and went at times,” Stroman said. “But overall, I felt a little better than I thought I would feel.”
Assad (5-3), who was moved to the bullpen to make room for Stroman, allowed two hits, struck out six and walked none.
“He’s so valuable to this team,” manager David Ross said, “and the versatility it gives you. … Having him in the bullpen is just such a weapon.”
Julian Merryweather escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and José Cuas worked the ninth for his second big league save.
The Cubs jumped in front on Ian Happ’s RBI double in the first. Happ advanced on Bellinger’s grounder to second, but he was stranded at third when Brenton Doyle robbed Suzuki with a leaping grab right in front of the ivy-covered wall in center.
Colorado responded with three runs in the second. Elias Díaz drove in Kris Bryant with a bloop single to center. Díaz scored on Stroman’s wild pitch, and Doyle made it 3-1 with a two-out RBI double.
Cubs: RHP Brad Boxberger (forearm strain) was placed on the 15-day injured list, and RHP Keegan Thompson was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. … RHP Adbert Alzolay (forearm strain) had a bullpen session on Friday that went well. He was slated to play catch on Saturday. … INF Jeimer Candelario (low back strain) has resumed baseball activities.
Left-handers Ty Blach (3-2, 5.32 ERA) and Jordan Wicks (3-1, 2.67 ERA) start Sunday in Chicago’s last home game of the regular season. Blach was tagged for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in Colorado’s 11-9 loss at San Diego on Monday. Wicks pitched 4 1/3 innings of three-run ball in Chicago’s 6-2 loss at Arizona last weekend.
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