CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Steele tossed dominant two-hit ball through eight innings to move into a tie for the major league lead in wins, leading the Chicago Cubs past the San Francisco Giants 5-0 on Monday.
Steele improved to 16-3, matching the victory total of Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, as he won his seventh straight decision. Chicago’s All-Star left-hander overwhelmed the sliding Giants on a scorching afternoon at Wrigley Field, striking out a career-high 12 and walking two as the Cubs strengthened their grip on the second NL wild card spot.
“Attacking the strike zone, nice job and very efficient,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “That guy on the bump is really talented.”
Steele set the tone by pumping fastballs early with excellent command. Giants hitters made solid contact only a few times as the lefty threw 73 of 107 pitches for strikes.
“Then the secondary stuff is really nice,” Ross said “You go that deep in the game, you’re bound to, with his stuff, get some extra punch-outs there.”
Steele warmed up quickly on a 90-degree day. He had a hunch it might be a good one.
“It’s always fun when you know you have your stuff and you kind of know where your four-seam (fastball) is going, your slider, you’re able to go in and out, up-down.”
Seiya Suzuki hit a 432-foot solo shot off Giants starter Logan Webb in the second, then drove in Chicago’s second run with a line double to the right-center wall in the seventh.
Suzuki has rebounded from a mid-season slump, upping his batting average to .267 and homer total to 15.
“I feel really good right now, and I think I just want to make sure I continue this until the very end,” the Japanese outfielder said through a translator.
Yan Gomes also had two hits, including a double, and an RBI. Dansby Swanson drove an insurance run in the eighth with a bloop double that dropped in front of and got by Giants left fielder Mitch Haniger.
After allowing a solid line single to Casey Schmitt with two outs in the second, Steele retired 16 straight until walking J.D. Davis to start the eighth. Davis was erased on a double play before Paul DeJong singled for San Francisco’s second hit.
José Cuas pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the win. The 28-year-old Steele hasn’t lost since July 16 when Boston scored six runs — five unearned — against him.
Webb (9-12) allowed three runs on five hits and walked one through 6 2/3 innings as San Francisco lost its fourth straight. The Giants have dropped 17 of their last 25, but entered Monday tied with Arizona and Miami for the last NL postseason spot. Cincinnati was percentage points behind in the crowded mix.
“We definitely have to be better than we showed today and what we’ve been showing recently,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Right now, we have to be more aggressive.”
Webb retired 10 straight Cubs hitters between Suzuki’s homer and Gomes’ double to the wall in the fifth.
The Cubs chased Webb in the seventh when Cody Bellinger singled and then came home on Suzuki’s double. Gomes’ RBI singled made it 3-0 and Tristan Beck relieved.
Giants: RHP John Brebbia (right lat strain) and RHP Ross Stripling (mid-back strain) were with the Giants on Monday following minor-league rehab assignments and seem close to returning from the IL. Kapler said no roster move would take place on Monday, however. … OF Michael Conforto (left hamstring strain) also was with the team, but only to continue his rehab.
Cubs: Hot-hitting OF/INF Bellinger was at DH again on Monday. Ross wants to keep the 2019 NL MVPs bat in the lineup while giving his “banged up” body a rest. … All-Star RHP Marcus Stroman (rib cartilage fracture) was set to throw a bullpen session at the team’s Arizona training facility on Monday. … RHP Michael Fulmer (right forearm strain) played catch for a third straight day. … LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) and RHP Nick Burdi (right ulnar nerve irritation) are at Triple-A Iowa for rehab assignments.
RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-7, 3.59 ERA) takes the mound on Tuesday night as the series continues. The Giants will use RHP Ryan Walker (4-2, 2.16) as an opener.