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Cubs 4, Giants 2: Good pitching and timely hitting

That combination almost always results in victory, and it did for the Chicago Cubs Friday evening in San Francisco.

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

I love baseball games like this. A good pitchers’ duel finally broken up in the ninth inning with timely hitting. (Helps when the timely hitting is from the team you’re rooting for.) I could have done without the bottom-of-the-ninth drama, but the Cubs held on for a 4-2 win over the Giants, evening up their series.

Marcus Stroman and Alex Cobb matched each other almost exactly for six innings. Cobb held the Cubs hitless until Ian Happ singled with two out in the fourth, but the Cubs could not score in that inning. Cobb eventually struck out 11. But Stroman was nearly as good, even while allowing a lot of Giants baserunners — eight hits and a walk. He wriggled out of trouble each time, and got some defensive help in the first inning from Happ and Willson Contreras.

The Giants had runners on first and second with two out when Mike Yastrzemski singled.

Happ threw Wilmer Flores out at the plate [VIDEO].

That was a strong, accurate throw and perfect swipe tag. It was Happ’s eighth outfield assist of this season:

Patrick Wisdom gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the fifth [VIDEO].

Unlike Wisdom’s Thursday home run, which went to review, there was no doubt about this one. Wisdom has had home-run streaks before, and now that he’s homered in consecutive games, perhaps another one is beginning.

The bullpens took over in the seventh inning. Cobb walked Nico Hoerner leading off the inning and was replaced by Dominic Leone. Leone then walked Wisdom and Frank Schwindel, loading the bases. But the Cubs could do nothing with that opportunity, as Alfonso Rivas struck out and Christopher Morel hit into a double play.

Scott Effross entered to throw the seventh for the Cubs. He walked Yermin Mercedes, retired the next two Giants, then allowed a double to Flores and walk to Brandon Belt, loading the bases. That was a first for Effross — the first time in 61 MLB appearances that he had walked two hitters in an inning, or in a single outing at all.

He got out of the inning with this ground out [VIDEO].

The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Mychal Givens allowed a one-out double in the bottom of the inning. Givens ended that frame with a pair of strikeouts, including this one of Austin Wynns [VIDEO].

Givens has just been outstanding recently:

So, the game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to that 1-0 lead. Could they extend it?

They did, and with good hitting up and down the lineup. Hoerner walked with one out. Then Wisdom hit this ball down the left-field line [VIDEO].

The play went to review and... man, that’s pretty, pretty close on fair/foul. The ruling wound up “call stands” and Wisdom had his second extra-base hit of the game, a double, with Hoerner taking third.

Nico scored on this single by Schwindel [VIDEO].

Wisdom took third and Nelson Velázquez ran for Schwindel. Rivas then singled to make it 3-0 [VIDEO].

The Giants then showed that the Cubs weren’t the only team that could drop catchable fly balls in this series. Christopher Morel lofted a fly into short right field and... oh, no, Mike Yastrzemski [VIDEO].

That’s not necessarily an easy play, but the ball was in Yastrzemski’s glove, and then it wasn’t. Velázquez scored to make it 4-0.

And it was a good thing the Cubs scored all those runs, because David Robertson allowed a single and a two-run homer to Flores before striking out Thairo Estrada to end the game [VIDEO].

That was a good ballgame, despite some defensive miscues (Rafael Ortega had earlier dropped a catchable ball, but no Giants runs resulted). It was good to see Stroman continue his recent dominance:

Over those four starts Stroman has dropped his season ERA from 5.32 to 3.99, which at least is in view of his career mark of 3.65, and his peripherals are good in 13 starts this year. With 63 games remaining, he should get 13 more, presuming he stays healthy. This is the Stroman the Cubs thought they signed, and he could be an important part of a possible contending rotation in 2023, if the Cubs choose to put such a team together. (Hint: Yes, they should do that.)

If you didn’t watch this game, the Apple TV crew was better, I thought, than the last time this announcing team did a Cubs game (back in May vs. the Diamondbacks). There were fewer sideshows and there were actually times when they didn’t say a word and let the pictures tell the story. I was a bit surprised they put someone so closely associated with the Giants (Hunter Pence) on this broadcast team without a similar Cubs-related person also there. They also put some relevant graphics on-screen, including this one:

That’s pretty good company, Christopher Morel.

The series continues Saturday evening, thankfully for those of us in the Midwest an hour earlier than Friday night’s start. Game time Saturday is 8:05 p.m. CT and the pitching matchup is Drew Smyly vs. Jakob Junis. TV coverage for this one returns to Marquee Sports Network.