Marcus Stroman and Willson Contreras return; Cubs face extra-innings predicament

LOS ANGELES – Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman went off the 15-day injured Saturday and straight into a pitchers’ duel with Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.

The Cubs were monitoring Stroman’s workload in the start. He’d built up to 50-55 pitches in his rehab outing last week. But he made the most of the 59 pitches he threw in four innings against the Dodgers on Saturday.

Stroman held the Dodgers, who sit atop the National League West, scoreless. He gave up just two hits, both singles. He never allowed a runner into scoring position.

Stroman spent about a month on the IL with inflammation in his right shoulder. But he traced the issue back to his quick buildup in May after a bout with COVID-19.

To make room on the active roster for Stroman, the Cubs placed lefty Justin Steele on the paternity list.

Extra, extra

The Cubs played their 12th extra-inning game of the season Friday, leading Major League Baseball in that category. And three of their past six games have gone into extras.

The Cubs have not, however, fared well in those contests, going 3-9 in extra-inning games this season.

“The rewarding thing is we’ve been in a lot of tight games,” manager David Ross said early in the series. “These guys are getting playoff-type, experience, [facing] playoff-caliber teams: Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, the Yankees. We’re getting some real good experience this year that’s going to pay off in the long run for some of these young guys.”

Entering Saturday, playing 10 innings the night before provided an added challenge for the Cubs, whose rotation remains banged up. Extra innings mean an extra toll on the bullpen.

Ross also used an extra pitcher Friday after an inning-extending error by Seiya Suzuki.

In what should’ve been an inning-ending play in the sixth, Dodgers cleanup hitter Will Smith sliced a fly ball to right field. Suzuki drifted under it, but it kept curling toward the line and glanced off his glove. The Dodgers scored their first run on the error, and Ross replaced starter Keegan Thompson with veteran Chris Martin.

It was only Suzuki’s second error. A five-time Nippon Professional Baseball gold glover, Suzuki is known for his solid defense, which made it more head-scratching.

“It’s a really hard game we’re playing; sometimes things happen,” Ross said.

“I’m sure he wished he would have caught it.”

Martin went back out in the seventh but didn’t finish the inning. After Martin gave up a solo home run to Jake Lamb and a triple to Gavin Lux, reliever Scott Effross replaced him and got the last out.

Injury updates

Catcher Willson Contreras returned to the lineup Saturday, batting second as the designated hitter, after missing four games with a tight left hamstring.

Triple-A Iowa’s 10-1 win in Indianapolis featured two players in the second games of their rehab assignments.

Frank Schwindel (strained lower back) served as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4. Second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained left groin) went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored a run.

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