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Cubs 7, Tigers 6: More drama than we needed, part 2

The Cubs won their third straight... but it was not easy.

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, Cubs!

Maybe soon, you could take a big early lead and, you know, hold it?

For the second straight game, the Cubs took that early-inning lead. Also for the second straight game, they had scored four runs and had a multiple-run lead heading into the eighth inning.

This time, a bit of a bullpen meltdown gave the opponent multiple runs in the eighth and ninth. Fortunately, the Cubs offense was up to the task and scored just enough in the ninth to provide the margin of victory in a 7-6 win over the Tigers.

Wins are wins, they all count the same, but sheesh.

The Cubs put three on the board in the second inning in Detroit. Dansby Swanson walked with one out and Seiya Suzuki singled.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Jeimer Candelario’s ball went under the glove of Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Swanson scored, with Suzuki taking third. Seiya then scored on a wild pitch [VIDEO].

Candelario took second on that play, and after Yan Gomes struck out, Nick Madrigal doubled in Jeimer [VIDEO].

In the fourth inning, Suzuki made it 4-0 with his 13th home run [VIDEO].

Javier Assad was breezing along until the sixth, when Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter hit back-to-back homers off him. One out later, a single by Parker Meadows (his first MLB hit) brought out David Ross, and Hayden Wesneski finished off the inning without further incident.

Jose Cuas threw an uneventful seventh, ended by this nice double play turned by Swanson [VIDEO].

With two out in the eighth, Ian Happ tripled (his second straight game with a triple, his hit/error Sunday was changed after the fact) and scored on this single by Cody Bellinger [VIDEO].

So it’s 5-2 heading to the eighth. With the bullpen a bit overextended over the weekend, Michael Fulmer was summoned to throw in his third straight game. It was, I thought, a reasonable call. Fulmer had thrown 14 pitches Saturday and 12 Sunday, not too heavy a workload.

Well, whoops, that didn’t work. A double, single and walk loaded the bases with nobody out. Fulmer struck out Meadows, but Javy Báez doubled in a pair. A single by Matt Vierling then tied the game 5-5.

I suppose after Báez’ double was the time to take Fulmer out. Daniel Palencia entered after the Vierling hit and retired the next two hitters to end the inning.

The Cubs then got right back to work offensively. Yan Gomes led off with a double and Miles Mastrobuoni ran for him.

Madrigal drove Mastrobuoni in [VIDEO].

That’s an RBI double for Madrigal, his second of the game, making it 6-5. What I want to know is: How on Earth did he hit this pitch?

That ball almost hit Madrigal — it’s WAY inside. And yet, he was able to ... I guess, push it down the third-base line for a hit. Look at those exit velocity, distance and launch angle numbers, those are just ridiculous for an extra-base hit.

Mike Tauchman singled, sending Madrigal to third, and Nico Hoerner popped up.

Then the Cubs’ very important seventh run scored on this play [VIDEO].

With Adbert Alzolay unavailable, Mark Leiter Jr. got the save chance. It wasn’t pretty. Torkelson singled with one out, and one out later went to second on defensive indifference — not sure why you wouldn’t hold the runner in a close game like this. A single made it 7-6.

Leiter then ended the game on this play [VIDEO].

A win is a win, and give this Cubs team a lot of credit for scoring those two runs in the ninth after blowing a three-run eighth-inning lead. I’ve said this before, and it’s still true: This team NEVER quits, and they showed that Monday night in Detroit. Assad had a nice outing before he ran out of gas in the sixth, and he’s shown over the four starts he’s made in August (2.86 ERA, 1.136 WHIP) that he’s a competent replacement for Marcus Stroman in the rotation.

The win put the Cubs at a season-high six games over .500 and moved them to within 2½ games of the N.L. Central lead. Combined with the Giants’ loss to the Phillies, the win also moved the Cubs ahead of San Francisco into the second wild-card spot, 2½ games behind the Phillies, who are in the top wild-card position.

Tuesday evening, Drew Smyly, who once pitched for the Tigers, will take the mound for the Cubs for his first start since August 7. Righthander Reese Olson will start for Detroit. Game time is again 5:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.