LOS ANGELES — Cubs right-handers Markus Stroman came off the 15-day injury list on Saturday and went straight into a pitcher duel with the Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
Despite Stroman’s performance, the Cubs lost 4-2 and fell 3-0 in the four-game series.
In the beginning, the Cubs monitored Stroman’s workload. He had built up to 50-55 pitches during his rehab trip last week. But he made the most of the 59 pitches he threw in four innings.
Stroman kept the Dodgers, who are top of the National League West, scoreless. He gave up only two singles and never let a runner into goal position.
“I felt like [my stuff] was pretty good,” Stroman said. “Even when I was away, I only worked mechanically with our coaches here. I think we’ve found some things to work on in the future to provide some consistency. So I’m excited to see the results.”
Stroman spent about a month on the injured list with an infection in his right shoulder. He attributed the problem to its rapid build-up in May following a battle with COVID-19.
“Much better,” Stroman said of how he was feeling on Saturday. “My arm is pain free, my shoulder feels great.”
He figured his next start would bring him up to 80-85 pitch count and build from there.
To make room on the active roster for Stroman, the Cubs deployed at left touchline Justin Steele on the paternity list.
Manager David Ross announced the left-hander after the game Drew Smyly (right slanting stem) was due to return from the 15-day IL to start Sunday.
The Cubs played their 12th extra inning game on Friday, leading the majors in that category. And on Saturday, three of their previous six games had gone to the extras.
The Cubs have not fared well, going 3-9.
“The rewarding thing is that we’ve been in a lot of close games,” said the manager DavidRoss said at the beginning of the series. “These guys are gaining playoff experience [facing] Playoff teams: Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, the Yankees. We are having a really good experience this year that will pay off in the long run for some of these young people.”
Playing 10 innings the night before was an added challenge for the Cubs, whose rotation remains struggling. Additional innings mean an additional charge for the bullpen.
Ross also used an extra pitcher Friday after an inning extension error by Seiya Suzuki.
In what should have been an inning-ending game in game six, the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter Will Smith clipped a flyball into right field. Suzuki drifted under it, but it continued to ripple toward the line and clipped his glove. The Dodgers scored their first miss run and Ross replaced the starter Keegan Thompson with Veterans Chris Martin.
It was only Suzuki’s second mistake. A five-time Nippon Professional Baseball Gold Glove, Suzuki is known for his solid defense, which made him even more head-scratching.
“It’s a really tough game we play; sometimes things happen,” Ross said.
“I’m sure he wishes he had caught it.”
Martin went out again in the seventh but didn’t finish the inning. After that, Martin gave up a solo home run Jake Lamb and a triple too Gavin Luxhelper Scott Effross replaced him and got the last one out.
catcher Willson Contreras returned to the lineup on Saturday, batting as second-ranked hitter-designated after missing four games with a tight left hamstring.
† In Triple-A Iowa’s 10-1 win at Indianapolis, two players were in their second games of rehab.
Frank swindle (strained lower back) served as the designated hitter, going 1-for-4. Second baseman Nick Madrigal (tense left groin) went 0-to-3 with a stride and scored a run.