CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Steele burnished his potential All-Star credentials while helping the Cubs get back on a winning track.
The left-hander tossed a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning and won his third straight start, and Chicago snapped a four-game skid with a 10-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Friday.
Steele (9-2) struck out six and walked one in 6 1/3 innings as he lowered his ERA to 2.43. He didn’t allow a hit until David Fry lined a short-hop single off shortstop Dansby Swanson’s glove to lead off the fifth.
The 27-year-old has the numbers for the NL’s pitching staff at the All-Star game in Seattle on July 11. The stuff and poise too.
“He was very efficient and dominated,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “The ball was moving all over the place, some heavy cutters looked like today.”
Steele slammed the door on Chicago’s losing streak that came after the Cubs had won 11 of 13.
“He’s a horse, man,” Ross added. ‘Every time he takes the bump he’s a guy who feels like it’s win day. He’s turned into just an ace.”
And an All-Star?
“Yeah, it’s crossed my mind,” Steele said. “It would be quite the honor, another notch on the belt.”
Christoper Morel hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs, and Nick Madrigal added a solo homer in Chicago’s 13-hit attack.
Madrigal’s homer was his first since joining the Cubs in a 2021 trade-deadline deal with the crosstown White Sox.
‘It’s just a great win for our team,” said Madrigal, ribbed by teammates over the long-ball drought. “That’s the most important thing, but it definitely felt good.”
Nico Hoerner had three hits, two RBIs and reached base four times while extending his hitting streak to nine games. Jared Young drove in two runs with his second triple in two games and finished with two hits and two runs scored.
Terry Francona was back managing the Guardians following a health scare that led to him being hospitalized in Kansas City and missing three games.
Will Brennan hit a solo homer in the ninth inning for Cleveland, which entered tied for first in the AL Central. The Guardians lost their second straight to fall to 39-42.
Three Cubs relievers followed to finish a five-hitter.
Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill (2-5) lasted only 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits as he returned from a month on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. The right-hander hasn’t won since May 7.
“The arm feels a lot better,” Quantrill said. “Thought I threw the ball well. They hit some good pitches and I made a couple of bad ones.”
The 64-year-old Francona, who missed significant time in the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to poor health, became lightheaded before Tuesday’s game against the Royals. He spent one night at The University of Kansas Health System.
He rejoined the Guardians for Thursday’s series finale, but remained in his office because of excessive heat at Kauffman Stadium.
The first two Cleveland hitters reached on a walk and a throwing error by Steele. The lefty then retired 12 straight before Swanson couldn’t snag Fry’s skipping liner.
The Cubs jumped ahead 2-0 in the third on Hoerner’s bases-loaded single up the middle. Chicago added four runs in the fourth.
Young’s triple to the right-field corner in the fourth scored two runs to make it 4-0. Mike Tauchman’s single up the middle scored Young to increase the lead to 5-0 and chase Quantrill. Morel’s deep sacrifice fly capped the rally.
The Cubs iced it with three runs the sixth on Madrigal’s and Morel’s homers.
Before the game, Francona said: “I actually feel OK today.”
The manager said his heart rate accelerated and his blood pressure was high during his spell in Kansas City He was sweating, even when just sitting.
Francona will get follow-up tests in Cleveland on Monday
Young is 4 for 9 with a homer and four RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.
DAY OFF FOR REGULARS
1B Josh Naylor and LF Steven Kwan rested as Cleveland played a day game after a night contest Thursday in Kansas City. Kwan had appeared in all of Cleveland’s first 80 games.
Cubs: OF Seiya Suzuki (stiff neck) took batting practice, but was out of the lineup for the third straight game. … 3B Patrick Wisdom (right wrist sprain) was set to DH on Friday in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. … RHP Adrian Sampson (right meniscus injury) tossed three innings Thursday at the Cubs training facility in Glendale, Arizona.
Cleveland RHP Tanner Bibee (4-2, 3.79) faces Chicago’s RHP Marcus Stroman (9-5, 2.47) on Saturday. Stroman left his previous start, a loss to the Cardinals in London on Sunday, with a blister on his right index finger. Manager David Ross said on Friday the righty was ready and had “no lingering effects” after throwing a bullpen session on Thursday.