DETROIT (AP) — Yan Gomes hit a tiebreaking, two-out single in the eighth inning and the playoff-contending Chicago Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers 6-4 on Wednesday.
Detroit’s Kerry Carpenter hit a grand slam in the sixth inning off Jameson Taillon that tied the game at 4-all, but his teammates didn’t do much else at the plate.
The Cubs have won 24 of their last 34 games and took two of three from the Tigers, improving to 9-1-1 in their last 11 series.
Chicago currently holds the second NL wild-card spot in what looks like a six-team race for three spots, and is trying to challenge NL Central-leading Milwaukee and stay ahead of division rival Cincinnati.
“We’ve got a little over a month left of the season, and we get to play a lot of those teams that are around us and ahead of us,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “This is what you sign up for. This is what I signed up for. This team has done a nice job of being really resilient in tough times and continuing to push through.”
Julian Merryweather (5-1) struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Adbert Alzolay pitched the ninth, striking out Jake Rogers with runners on second and third for his 19th save — converting on his 15th straight opportunity.
In the eighth, Ian Happ had a one-out infield hit against Beau Brieske (0-2), who walked Seiya Suzuki with two outs and then yielded Gomes’ single to left.
Nico Hoerner’s sacrifice fly in the ninth gave the Cubs a two-run cushion.
Chicago led 4-0 through four innings, scoring each run with two-out hits.
The Cubs went ahead 1-0 in the second when former Tigers infielder Jeimer Candelario hit his 37th double of the season.
Cody Bellinger’s two-run single in the third and Nick Madrigal’s RBI single gave Chicago a four-run cushion that seemed comfortable with the way Taillon was pitching. The right-hander didn’t give up a hit through five innings, getting some help from Bellinger tracking down drives to the warning track in center.
Andy Ibanez, who hit two homers for Detroit in Tuesday’s win, broke through with a leadoff single in the sixth on an 0-2 fastball over the middle of the plate.
“That’s a better team than their record over there, with all those young guys swinging it well,” Ross said. “The heart of their order is really deep and young and talented.”
Tarik Skubal’s left leg was struck by Gomes’ 101.6 mph comebacker in the fourth inning.
“That was an ugly one,” Hinch said. “I didn’t know where he got hit. He said, ‘That’s why you do squats.’ It did hurt him. You don’t see players on their back on the field very often. It shook him for a second.”
After being evaluated on the field, the left-hander stayed in the game and gave up four runs on six hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings.
Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (14-3, 2.80 ERA) is expected to start Thursday’s series opener at Pittsburgh.
Tigers: Following a day off, Detroit RHP Matt Manning (5-4, 4.31) is scheduled to start Friday night against visiting Houston.