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Cubs sail past Marlins on Bryant, Almora HRs

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant smacked a two-run homer and Albert Almora Jr. gave his hometown friends and family something to cheer about with a solo shot to power the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Marlins on Monday night for their fourth straight win.

Eddie Butler scattered three hits, all doubles, over 5 2/3 innings to record the first win by a Cubs starter since the right-hander beat the Giants on May 25. The Marlins' only run came on a sacrifice fly by Dee Gordon in the sixth.

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CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant smacked a two-run homer and Albert Almora Jr. gave his hometown friends and family something to cheer about with a solo shot to power the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Marlins on Monday night for their fourth straight win.

Eddie Butler scattered three hits, all doubles, over 5 2/3 innings to record the first win by a Cubs starter since the right-hander beat the Giants on May 25. The Marlins' only run came on a sacrifice fly by Dee Gordon in the sixth.

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"[Miami starter Dan Straily] settles down, really gives a solid seven, gives our offense a chance," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "And really we just didn't do anything."

It was the second loss in nine games for the Marlins, who were averaging six runs per game in their past eight contests. Both Cubs homers were hit into a pitcher-friendly 17-mph north wind.

"The lake did injure us a bit, but it also got them on the fly ball by [Christian] Yelich to left [in the first]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We did hit the ball better than the 3-1 [score], but that's how the ballpark plays some days."

Video: MIA@CHC: Schwarber hustles and reaches for the catch

Ben Zobrist doubled to lead off the Chicago first against Straily, and one pitch later, Bryant hit his 13th homer of the season and 10th at home, lining the ball to left and into the wind. It was Bryant's second homer this season with a runner on base. Almora, starting for the first time since May 28, connected with two outs in the fourth. The Cubs have hit 37 home runs in 24 games, tied with the D-backs for the most in the National League in that span.

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"Obviously not the way I want to get going there with the first two guys," said Straily, who allowed three runs over seven innings. "But you can't sit there and feel sorry for yourself. There's a lot of ballgame left to go at that point."

Think the wind doesn't make a difference? The Cubs have hit 17 home runs in 17 games at Wrigley Field when the wind is blowing in, compared to 23 homers in 11 games when it's blowing out.

"In [batting practice], we were crushing balls," Almora said. "You try not to do too much in these situations. You know if you hit the ball hard, it's going to go." 

The Cubs reclaimed a share of the NL Central lead with the win and Milwaukee's loss to the Giants.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Backup plan: Almora has been the odd man out with the arrival of rookie Ian Happ. With two outs in the Cubs fourth, Almora was ahead 3-0 against Straily, then took a strike, and launched the next pitch into the left-field bleachers for his third homer of the season. On Sunday night, Happ hit a pair of home runs, but Maddon said he'd planned to have Almora start vs. Straily and give Happ a day off.

"I'm just happy I'm able to represent my family back home," said Almora, a Miami-area resident, who had a large contingent of family and friends back in Florida watching the game on television. "I just do it for them. When I give them the chance to see their son or their friend go out there and have success, I'm just happy it happened." More >>

Video: MIA@CHC: Almora Jr. cranks a solo homer to left

Missed opportunities: Butler gave up one hit and walked one over the first five innings. J.T. Riddle doubled to open the Marlins sixth and one out later scored on Gordon's sacrifice fly to center. Giancarlo Stanton doubled to chase Butler and Mike Montgomery retired Yelich to end the inning. The Marlins had chances as they stranded Marcell Ozuna at third in the second inning and again in the seventh.

Montgomery held the Marlins to three hits over 3 1/3 innings for his second save of the season. The Cubs bullpen was without closer Wade Davis, who was on paternity leave. Davis, whose wife, Katelyn, gave birth to the couple's second child on Monday, sent Montgomery a text message to congratulate him on his outing.

"I told him, 'Hey, I'm just channeling my inner Wade,'" Montgomery said.

Video: MIA@CHC: Montgomery lifts Cubs with 10-out save

QUOTABLE
"Being efficient, attacking the zone, keeping a good pace, it keeps everybody ready to play. Guys were talking about it after the game -- 'That was great pace of play today.' If you can get them back into the dugout quick, it gets them ready to score runs." -- Butler, on the quick game, which was completed in 2 hours, 16 minutes

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Cubs relievers have gone 3-1 with four saves and a 1.23 ERA in the past seven games. This was Montgomery's second career regular-season save -- he got his first career save in Game 7 of the World Series.

Video: MIA@CHC: Montgomery on 3 1/3 scoreless innings, save

UNDER REVIEW
Riddle reached on an infield single to open the Marlins eighth as catcher Willson Contreras fielded the ball but threw underhand and over first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Contreras then threw to Rizzo to pick off Riddle, who was called safe. The Cubs challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call was overturned.

Video: MIA@CHC: Contreras aims to pick off Riddle for review

WHAT'S NEXT
Marlins: Lefty Jeff Locke (0-0, 1.59 ERA) will get the ball for the Marlins on Tuesday for Game 2 at 8:05 p.m. ET. Locke has pitched in just one game this year -- he missed the first two months of the season with biceps tendinitis -- but looked sharp, holding Arizona to one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Cubs: There's no place like Wrigley Field for Jake Arrieta, who is 2-0 with a 3.06 ERA in three starts at home. He'll make his fourth start there on Tuesday in the second game of this three-game series. Arrieta is coming off a no-decision against the Padres, in which he gave up one run over six innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Marlins on Monday.

Kris Bryant, Eddie Butler, Albert Almora Jr., Mike Montgomery, Dan Straily