Brandon Morrow got the call Saturday night. It was a call nine days in the making.
The Chicago Cubs‘ closer had not pitched since June 7 Patrick Onwuasor Jersey , due to his team either winning games in lopsided fashion or losing them. It was only natural that he started out a bit rusty against the Cardinals, allowing singles to Jairo Munoz and Kolten Wong to begin the bottom of the ninth.
But Morrow clicked into rhythm after that. Following an infield out, Morrow threw 99 mph fastballs by Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham to end Chicago’s 6-3 win over St. Louis and give him his 16th save in 17 chances.
Despite a 25-pitch inning in his return, Morrow should be available if needed for Sunday night’s series finale at Busch Stadium, where the Cubs will try to score a sweep and win for the 15th time in 20 games.
“I’d like to keep him sharp,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said, “but guys like that can normally throw on the side and stay sharp.”
Morrow has been everything the Cubs could have asked for in his first year with the team. Tasked with replacing Wade Davis as the ninth inning man, Morrow has pitched to a 1.59 earned run average, allowing just over one baserunner per inning and whiffing 25 hitters over 22 2/3 innings.
His ninth inning helped spotlight one of the biggest differences between Chicago and St. Louis. While the Cubs have a reliable back end of the bullpen, the Cardinals do not. They have basically two reliable relievers, and Jordan Hicks proved mortal in the eighth inning Saturday night when he ceded his first runs of June on Jason Heyward’s two-run homer.
That’s put the pressure on St. Louis starters, who for the most part have handled it. The burden now falls on rookie Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.96) to match his outing from a 5-2 win Monday night over San Diego and keep the Cardinals (36-32) from a fifth straight defeat.
Flaherty gave up just three hits and a run in 6 1/3 innings against the Padres, walking one and striking out six to claim his first win since May 20. This will be his first career start against Chicago, although he did pitch a scoreless inning of relief against the Cubs last year.
“We were just throwing with more conviction tonight,” Flaherty told mlb.com. “Last time out, I said I really didn’t execute well. I feel like it had a lot to do with execution and conviction behind everything, just throwing everything with intent.”
The Cubs (40-27) will counter with lefthander Jose Quintana (6-4, 4.09), whose up-and-down season is trending more in a positive direction of late. Quintana is coming off a no-decision Monday night in Milwaukee, where he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings as Chicago won 7-2 in 11 innings.
Quintana has permitted only four runs in his last three starts, covering 17 2/3 innings. He’s 3-1 in five career starts against the Cardinals with a 2.67 ERA, beating them twice last year after his mid-July acquisition from the Chicago White Sox.
Luis Severino became the majors’ first 12-game winner, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius homered and the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0 Tuesday night.
Severino (12-2) struck out nine in seven dominant innings, lowering his ERA to 2.10. The ace has allowed three runs or less in 16 of 17 starts.
Jake Arrieta (5-6) had another rough outing for Philadelphia, which had won four consecutive series before losing two straight to the Yankees. Arrieta gave up six runs – three earned – and nine hits in five innings.
Arrieta was 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA in five starts in June after posting a 0.90 ERA in five starts last month.
RAYS 1, NATIONALS 0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Nathan Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before an unusual combination of relievers in the ninth completed a three-hitter as the Rays beat Max Scherzer and the Nationals.
Eovaldi (2-3) lost his no-hit bid when Bryce Harper hit an opposite-field double off the left-field wall with two outs in the sixth.
Rays lefty Jose Alvarado began the ninth by walking Harper before moving to first base when Chaz Roe relieved him. Roe struck out Anthony Rendon before Alvarado returned to the mound and gave up singles to lefties Juan Soto and Daniel Murphy that loaded the bases.
Sergio Romo replaced Alvarado and got his sixth save.
Scherzer (10-4) gave up one run, four hits, three walks and struck out four in seven innings.
CARDINALS 11, INDIANS 2
ST. LOUIS (AP) – Matt Carpenter homered twice, matched a career best with five hits and helped chase Corey Kluber in the shortest start of the right-hander’s career. Carpenter scored a career-best five runs and also drove in three.
Kluber (11-4) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings and has lost two of his past three decisions. He gave up six hits, including homers to Carpenter and Jose Martinez, and walked one on 48 pitches.
Prior to Tuesday Orlando Brown Jr. Jersey , Kluber’s shortest start had been two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. His previous low this year was a five-inning game on June 15 against Minnesota when he took his third loss of the season.
Carlos Martinez (4-4) settled down after a rough first inning for his first victory since May 2. He had lost three straight decisions over his previous five starts. He went six innings, allowing two runs, six hits and a walk while striking out eight.
RED SOX 9, ANGELS 1
BOSTON (AP) – Mookie Betts homered on John Lamb’s first pitch of the game, and J.D. Martinez hit his major league-leading 24th home run to back David Price’s six strong innings.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had four RBIs and three hits, including a home run, and Christian Vazquez also homered to help Boston win for the fourth time in its last five games.
Price (9-5) allowed five hits, including a solo homer to Chris Young, and two walks while striking out seven to send Los Angeles to its fourth straight loss.
Lamb (0-1) got just five outs. He allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits and a pair of walks.
CUBS 9, DODGERS 4
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Javier Baez hit two home runs, including a grand slam, Jon Lester won his sixth consecutive start and Chicago ended a five-game losing streak.
Baez homered in consecutive innings, giving him 16 on the season, and finished with four hits.
Ross Stripling (6-3) gave up just one run over five innings before the Cubs broke open the game with six runs off the bullpen. The Dodgers lost for just the sixth time in 22 games in June.
Lester (10-2) has a 1.73 ERA over his last 11 starts, going back to April 30, and hasn’t lost since May 23. He is tied with Washington’s Max Scherzer for the NL lead in wins.
BREWERS 5, ROYALS 1
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Freddy Peralta pitched one-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, Jesus Aguilar hit one of Milwaukee’s three homers and the Brewers beat the Royals.
Peralta (3-0) allowed a leadoff double in the third to Adalberto Mondesi and also allowed a walk in the second. The 22-year-old rookie was perfect otherwise, striking out 10 in his fourth major league start.
Aguilar, Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun homered off starter Jakob Junis (5-9), who has lost six straight.
Mondesi, called up June 17, hit his first homer this season with two outs in the eighth off Dan Jennings.
PADRES 3, RANGERS 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe hit run-scoring doubles in San Diego’s three-run eighth inning, helping the Padres rally for a win over the Rangers.
Shin-Soo Choo singled with two outs in the ninth to extend his major league-leading streak of reaching base to 39 games before Brad Hand got Nomar Mazara to fly out with two runners on for his 22nd save.
Four of six San Diego hitters reached against Jake Diekman (1-1). After Myers ended the Texas shutout, Christian Villanueva lifted a tying sacrifice fly to left before Renfroe’s go-ahead liner.
San Diego relievers struck out five straight batters, starting with the second of two from Matt Strahm (2-2) in the seventh.
ATHLETICS 9, TIGERS 7
DETROIT (AP) – Jed Lowrie drove in the tiebreaking run in the top of the ninth inning for a second straight game, and the Athletics rallied from six runs down to hand the Tigers their seventh straight loss.
Detroit led 6-0 after three innings, but Oakland came back to tie it at 7-all in the seventh. Lowrie singled home Matt Joyce in the ninth for his fourth hit of the night.
Joyce doubled off Shane Greene (2-5) to lead off the ninth. Lowrie also came in to score an insurance run on a single by pinch-hitter Dustin Fowler.
Ryan Buchter (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for
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