CHICAGO (AP) — It was a grind for Zac Gallen. An impressive one.
Especially at the very end.
Gallen pitched five effective innings, Daulton Varsho homered and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Thursday night, stopping a six-game slide.
Gallen (3-0) allowed one run and two hits, continuing his strong start to the season. The right-hander issued three walks and hit a batter, but he wiggled out of a jam in his last inning while earning his first win in his fourth career start against Chicago.
"Warming up before the game, just didn't feel particularly sharp," he said. "Same thing in the fifth, wasn't exactly sharp, wasn't able to really execute to the best of my abilities."
After finishing 2021 with a career-high 4.30 ERA, Gallen has permitted two or fewer runs in each of his first seven starts this year.
"Really just try to put a stop to the losing streak, get us back to playing baseball like we were a week ago," Gallen said. "We're a good team."
The Cubs got Marcus Stroman back from the COVID-19 injured list, but they went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. Yan Gomes doubled home Willson Contreras in the fourth for the team's only run in the opener of a four-game series.
Stroman (1-4) allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in five innings in his first start since May 1. The right-hander struck out six and walked none.
"I thought I competed pretty well, and I was in the zone," Stroman said. "I've had layoffs like that before in the past, and I've been kind of all over the place. Just to be around the zone and give my team a chance, I think it's something good to build off."
Stroman retired his first nine batters, but Varsho drove his first pitch of the fourth deep to center for his seventh homer. Josh Rojas and David Peralta tacked on two-out RBI singles for a 3-0 lead.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the fifth on Christopher Morel's 11-pitch walk in his third big league game, Andrelton Simmons' eight-pitch walk after falling behind 0-2 and a hit by pitch for Contreras. But Ian Happ bounced to second on the 10th pitch of his at-bat, ending the inning.
"They outpitched us tonight," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I thought our guys fought hard."
Sean Poppen, Joe Mantiply, Ian Kennedy and Mark Melancon then combined for four innings of two-hit relief. Kennedy struck out Patrick Wisdom with runners on second and third in the eighth, and Melancon earned his eighth save.
"There were some really, really touch-and-go moments overall for this game," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "But we execute at a very high level when we need to, and that's what we're all about."
Diamondbacks: C Jose Herrera was placed on the injured list without a designation, indicating a potential COVID-19 issue with the team. The move with Herrera comes one day after LHP Kyle Nelson and OF Cooper Hummel were placed on the IL without any injury designation. The team announced the same move for INF Nick Ahmed on Monday. With Herrera out, C Grayson Greiner was promoted from Triple-A Reno. ... 2B Ketel Marte returned to the lineup after missing two games with left hand soreness.
Cubs: RHP Michael Rucker was placed on the 15-day injured list with left turf toe. To make room for Stroman on the 40-man roster, RHP Alec Mills was transferred to the 60-day IL. ... INF David Bote (left shoulder) went 1 for 3 with a double in his first rehab game with Triple-A Iowa. ... INF Nico Hoerner (right ankle) is building up his running progression. ... SS Ed Howard, the No. 16 pick in the 2020 amateur draft, will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury. Howard, 20, was with Class-A South Bend when he got hurt. "He's going to have surgery," President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said. "The early prognosis is really good as far as a comeback."
Right-handers Humberto Castellanos and Kyle Hendricks pitch on Friday afternoon. Castellanos (2-1, 4.15 ERA) tossed 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a no-decision against the Cubs at Chase Field on Sunday. Hendricks (2-3, 4.03 ERA) has permitted just one run in 14 1/3 innings over his last two starts for Chicago.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap