Drew Smyly returns from IL, throws two-plus innings in Cubs’ 11-9 loss to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – Lefty Drew Smyly was the second Cubs starter to return from the injured list in as many games.

The Cubs activated Smyly to start against the Dodgers on Sunday, in his first appearance back from a six-week stint on the 15-day IL with a strained right oblique.

The Cubs fell 11-9 to the Dodgers, completinga four-game sweep. But Smyly and right-hander Marcus Stroman’s returns this weekend bode well for a rotation that’s been shorthanded for much of the season.In a corresponding move, the Cubs optioned reliever Michael Rucker to Triple-A.

“[Smyly has] felt ahead of schedule since he started the rehab process back,” manager David Ross said of Smyly’s return from a notoriously finicky injury. “He’s a veteran guy that we put a lot of trust in, and he’s given us a ton of feedback. And it’s been nice. Been able to keep him off the 60-day, and now he’s back.”

Smyly took the mound in the bottom of the first inning with a 5-0 lead. The Cubs’ opening rally included catcher PJ Higgins’ first career grand slam.

An already long inning dragged on as Smyly allowed three runs on three hits and a leadoff walk. Smyly and Dodgers starter Julio Ur?as combined to throw 81 pitches in the first inning.

Smyly rebounded with a quick second inning, inducing ground balls for all three outs. But when he gave up a leadoff double to Dodgers star Freddie Freeman in the third, Smyly’s pitch count had climbed to 56, and Ross pulled him.

Smyly was charged with four runs in two-plus innings.

The Dodgers rallied for six runs in the third, wiping away the Cubs’ lead, and the home team never trailed again.

All-Star brothers

Catcher Willson Contreras’ family received more good news on Sunday. Two days after Contreras was named an All-Star starter, MLB announced his brother William had been voted into the All-Star Game via player balloting.

Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper, who was named an All-Star starter, will be inactive (broken thumb) for the midsummer classic. So, William Contreras, one of five Braves All-Star selections this year, will take Harper’s place in the starting lineup.

Willson and William Contreras are set to be the first brothers to appear in the same All-Star Game since Aaron and Bret Boone in 2003, the first on the same All-Star team since Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1998, and the first in the same starting lineup since the Alomar brothers in 1992.

Madrigal exits rehab game

Cubs second baseman Nick Madrigal left a rehab game with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday after one at-bat. He was serving as the designated hitter, as part of his ramp-up process.

Madrigal felt tightness in his groin Sunday, according to the Cubs, which originally landed him on the IL about a month ago. Madrigal was set to get the issue checked out in Chicago as a precautionary measure.

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