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Contreras, Bryant halt Cubs' 4-game skid

June 24, 2016

MIAMI -- The Cubs came out swinging, and scoring, quickly on Friday night. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras each homered in the first inning, but it was Contreras' RBI single in the seventh that proved the difference in a 5-4 win over Miami at Marlins Park.Contreras' three-RBI night enabled the

MIAMI -- The Cubs came out swinging, and scoring, quickly on Friday night. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras each homered in the first inning, but it was Contreras' RBI single in the seventh that proved the difference in a 5-4 win over Miami at Marlins Park.
Contreras' three-RBI night enabled the Cubs to snap their season-long four-game losing streak, along with evening their four-game series with the Marlins. Miami was limited to two hits, but one of them was Justin Bour's first-inning grand slam.
"I really loved our tenacity tonight," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Chicago reclaimed the lead in the seventh inning on Contreras' RBI single off Mike Dunn, who had a wild inning. The Miami lefty threw 15 pitches, with just four strikes. He issued a walk to Bryant and bounced a slider that struck Ben Zobrist in the foot. Chicago threatened more, loading the bases, but Nick Wittgren worked out of the jam.
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"I can't remember the last time I went out there and I couldn't throw anything over the plate," Dunn said. "I didn't give the team a chance. Walking guys, you can't do that. I put that one on my shoulders. It's all me."
The first inning was long and eventful, as each team scored four times. Bryant jump-started things for the Cubs with a home run to left, the first of six straight hits off Tom Koehler. Contreras connected on a two-run homer, and after Chris Coghlan tripled, Javier Baez singled through a drawn-in infield.

"That's what you call a team victory," Maddon said. "That's the big thing we've been unable to do is get that knock."
Miami roared back, and received a lift when shortstop Addison Russell booted Derek Dietrich's grounder. The error kept the inning alive, and after walks to Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, Bour blasted a grand slam to center off Kyle Hendricks. It was the only hit off the Chicago starter over five innings. All four runs were unearned.
"To be able to come back and get it to a zero-zero ballgame, basically," Bour said. "That was big. I know as soon as we tied the game there that Tom is going to go out there and do a good job."
Koehler boosted by blast: After being rocked by six straight hits, including two home runs, in a four-run first inning, it was unclear if Koehler would even make it into the second inning. But after Bour's grand slam pulled Miami even at 4, Koehler was re-energized. The right-hander settled in and made it through six innings, allowing just one more hit. Koehler worked out of a simmering first-and-second, one-out jam in the fifth inning when he got Baez to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play. Koehler has worked at least six innings in six straight starts.
"It's not very often that you get an inning like that and a chance to reset," Koehler said. "You get a do-over. I really wanted to make the most of that. I really looked at it like a zero-zero game from that point on. I just tried to give the team as much as I could from there on out."
Pair of walks sets up slam: The big blast was the telling shot. Bour's grand slam in the first, his second of the season, was projected by Statcast™ at 436 feet with an exit velocity of 104 mph. The drive to center was a no-doubter, as even Hendricks dropped his head when the ball was hit, knowing the ball was gone. But Bour wouldn't have had the opportunity for the homer if not for patient plate appearances by Ozuna and Stanton, who didn't chase pitches, instead drawing walks. More >

"Obviously, J.B.'s hit was huge," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "But the Ozuna walk and the Stanton walk, I thought were big, because it got it to [Hendricks]. It forced him into giving us a chance like that. It just kind of reset the game from there. It became a pretty good pitcher's game from that point forward."
Quick start: The Cubs appeared to shake their offensive doldrums in the first when they sent nine batters to the plate. With one out, Bryant hit his 18th homer and notched his 50th RBI. According to Statcast™, the exit velocity of Bryant's homer was 107 mph. Zobrist then singled and scored on Contreras' opposite-field homer, the rookie's third in his sixth start. Coghlan tripled and scored on Baez's single for a 4-0 lead. But the Marlins answered in their half with Bour's grand slam. More >

"It's like oxygen. He's absolutely necessary," Maddon said of Contreras' contributions. "What he's done over the last couple days and the life he's brought to the group -- it's absolutely necessary. He has been the catalyst the last couple days."
Web gem: The Cubs' Baez added another clip to his personal defensive highlight reel in the fourth. Baez, starting at third, dived into the first row of seats along the third-base line to catch J.T. Realmuto's popup. Baez ended up in the seats but held onto the ball.

"At this point, hopefully we're getting past [Dunn missing most of the season]. We've just got to execute better. Mike will continue to work. He's been really good in the past, and he's going to be good again. It's not like he's a guy we're not going to be able to count on. I think by the end of the year, and as we get into this thing, we're going to be able to count on him." -- Mattingly on Dunn's struggles. Dunn missed the first two months due to a left forearm strain.
Chicago's Ben Zobrist had to leave the game with a bruise on his left ankle after he was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, but Zobrist is not expected to play on Saturday. More >
With his home run, Bryant and Anthony Rizzo now each have 50 RBIs, and it's the first time the Cubs have had multiple players with 50 before the All-Star break since 2008 when Aramis Ramirez (66 RBIs), Derrek Lee (56), Geovany Soto (56) and Mark DeRosa (50) did so.
Cubs:John Lackey will take the ball on Saturday in the third game of this four-game series. The right-hander is coming off a loss to the Cardinals in which he gave up three runs over six innings (his 10th straight quality outing). He's made two starts against the Marlins, and they've been a decade apart (2005 and '15). This will be his first game in Miami in his career. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT.
Marlins:Paul Clemens has pretty much been on standby the past few days. He has been lined up to start on Saturday, but that was subject to change in case he was needed out of the bullpen the previous few games. Clemens (0-0, 5.40) is making a few spot starts since lefty Justin Nicolino was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Clemens is now set for the 4:10 p.m. ET start at Marlins Park.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.