Hoerner's return sparks Cubs to big win over Phillies

Desperate times call for drastic changes.

The Cubs took that plan to heart Friday, completing a series of roster moves ahead of the series opener in Philadelphia.

The most significant was second baseman Nico Hoerner returning to the lineup after spending 10 days on the injured list with a left hamstring strain. Hoerner delivered a pair of 2-run doubles as the Cubs snapped their five-game losing streak with a 10-1 victory over the Phillies.

Hoerner finished the night 3-for-6 with 4 RBI. Christopher Morel continued his power barrage with his sixth home run in nine games. Seiya Suzuki, Yan Gomes and Nick Madrigal had 2 hits each.

"Baseball's a game of waves, it really is," winning pitcher Marcus Stroman said after the game. "There's a bunch of adversity. You're going to go through spurts where you lose five in a row, lose six in a row. That's why you play 162 of them. You really have to stay even-keel through it all.

"I'm extremely confident in this team. It's a long, long season. We can easily get hot and go on crazy stretches and runs. We have a great group of guys and we're ready for it all."

Stroman was back to his usual self, completing 6 innings with just 3 hits allowed. He was coming off the shortest outing of his two seasons with the Cubs, lasting less than 3 innings in Minnesota last Sunday and getting tagged for 6 earned runs in a blowout loss.

"I was a lot better mechanically," Stroman said. "Just felt more confident with every pitch. Everything was way sharper. My sinker was at the bottom of the zone with great movement. I thought Yan did a really good job mixing up my pitches and I just thought I was on a pretty good roll."

The Cubs' other moves included putting center fielder Cody Bellinger on the 10-day injured list retroactive to May 16. He suffered a left knee contusion in Houston while leaping against the wall to make a spectacular catch.

"The knee was responding slowly," manager David Ross said before the game. "Kind of like Nico, why push it? Got an off-day in here to not miss quite as many games hopefully and he's back pretty soon."

First baseman Eric Hosmer was designated for assignment. The veteran hit .234 in 31 games, but the Cubs appear locked into playing Matt Mervis at first base full-time.

Reliever Keegan Thompson was sent to Iowa. He's had a frustrating few weeks, posting a 9.95 ERA in May, after going 1.80 in April.

Ross said the plan is for Thompson to concentrate on being a multi-inning reliever who gets a few days off between appearance. A former starter, Thompson seemed to struggle with a more typical relief role of one inning at a time, working frequently.

The Cubs called up outfielder Mike Tauchman, a Fremd High School graduate, and Edwin Rios from Iowa. Tauchman is a five-year MLB vet, playing for Colorado, the Yankees and San Francisco. He had a hot start in spring training, then hit .279 in Iowa this season. Rios started the season with the Cubs and becomes another option at first base.

Tauchman flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, making his first big-league appearance since the 2021 season.

"We need Tauchman out there will Belli being down and his defense and bat from the left side," Ross said. "Rios is also going to bring some of that."

On several occasions, Ross has raved about how Hosmer provided a positive presence in the clubhouse and was understanding when the Cubs brought up Mervis to play first base.

"I'm just incredibly impressed with (Hosmer) as a person," Hoerner said before the game. "He was as invested in this team's success as anyone in this locker room and at a point in his career when he didn't have to do that. He just enjoyed being around the guys every single day."

The Cubs signed Hosmer to a one-year, minimum-salary contract. He's still owed roughly $50 million from the San Diego Padres, who released him last season.

The Cubs extended their winning streak against the Phillies to seven in a row. Philadelphia went to the World Series last season, but were 0-6 against the Cubs.

Another sidebar to this game was a matchup of free-agent shortstops. The Phillies spent big to bring in Trea Turner with an 11-year, $300-million deal. The Cubs signed Dansby Swanson for seven years and $177 million.

Turner was booed loudly by Phillies fans after striking out in sixth. The former Dodger is off to a slow start, but hasn't been terrible. Turner started the night hitting .262 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI. He had 100 RBI last season.

Former Cub Kyle Schwarber is 1 for his last 18 with 7 walks after going 0-for-2 Friday.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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