PHOENIX — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Alek Thomas hit three-run homers, rookie Brandon Pfaadt delivered 5 1/3 quality innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 on Friday night.
The two clubs are in the middle of a six-team dogfight for three National League wild-card spots. Arizona moved into a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for the final spot, while the Cubs are in the second position, 1 1/2 games in front of the D-backs and Reds.
Gurriel’s homer to deep left off Cubs ace Justin Steele in the first gave Arizona an early 3-0 lead. It was his 24th homer of the season.
Thomas connected in the sixth off Steele, delivering a two-out homer that barely cleared the right-field wall.
The Cubs trailed 6-0 heading to the ninth before Ian Happ hit a solo homer and Seiya Suzuki added a two-run shot off reliever Kyle Nelson. The D-backs then brought in closer Paul Sewald, who immediately gave up a no-doubt solo homer to Christohper Morel.
Sewald quickly recovered, retiring the next two batters.
Steele (16-4) — one of the leaders in the NL Cy Young race — gave up six earned runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings. He had been on a roll before Friday’s start, giving up just one run over his previous 21 innings.
Pfaadt (2-8) delivered one of the best outings of his short big league career, striking out six while giving up four hits and a walk. Catcher Gabriel Moreno added four hits, including a double.
The Diamondbacks took three out of four games from the Cubs in Chicago last week.
Cubs All-Star Marcus Stroman was activated from the 15-day injured list and delivered two scoreless innings of relief on Friday.
The 32-year-old right-hander has been out for about six weeks with right hip inflammation. He has a 10-8 record and a 3.85 ERA in 23 starts this season, but manager David Ross said he’ll be in the bullpen for the time being.
“Marcus has a proven track record and getting him back was an important step,” Ross said. “He’s on a journey to try and build back up, but right now, he’ll help us out in the bullpen. Then we’ll read and react to see how everything goes these last couple weeks.”
To make room for Stromnan, the Cubs optioned RHP Daniel Palencia to Triple-A Iowa.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said RHP Drey Jameson (elbow) had some discomfort in his arm during his throwing program. Lovullo added that the team is still evaluating what the next steps will be. Jameson has been on the injured list since July.
The series continues Saturday. The D-backs will start RHP Zach Davies (2-5, 6.81 ERA), while the Cubs counter with RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-7, 3.71).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB