MIAMI — Fans were still strolling to their seats with food and drink in hand as the Chicago Cubs extended batting practice into the first inning Friday at Marlins Park.
The sound of resounding crack of bat against ball again and again told them they had already missed a lot: six hits and four runs by the Cubs in the first 19 pitches by Miami Marlins starter Tom Koehler.
The turnabout was as swift as it took one swing by Justin Bour in the bottom of the first to get the Marlins even on his second career grand slam.
The early fireworks turned out to be a footnote in a game that saw hits and runs become scarce. Ultimately, the Cubs exploited the wildness of reliever Mike Dunn for a 5-4 victory to halt their first four-game losing streak of the season and even the series.
Willson Contreras, whose two-run home run was the big blow for the Cubs in the first, put them ahead again in the seventh with a run-scoring single.
Dunn, who has struggled since returning from a forearm strain that kept him out of the first two months of the season, in one-third of an inning walked two, hit a batter and served the go-ahead hit to Contreras.
It was the second time this week that Dunn has given up the decisive hit in a Marlins loss.
Normalcy returned after the wild first as neither starter allowed another run. The Marlins had only two hits in the game.
Bour’s slam was the only hit Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks allowed in five innings — the four runs were unearned due to an error — but he left due to an elevated pitch count with four walks and a hit batter. He became the first pitcher since 1900 to allow only one hit in five or more innings and have it be a grand slam, according to Elias Sports.
Koehler, winner of four of his previous five starts, recovered from the early abuse and completed six innings in a gritty 96-pitch effort. He gave up only one hit after the first, struck out six and walked two.
Smarting from their first adversity of the season and losing grip on the best record in baseball, the Cubs struck back with a vengeance from their defeat in the series opener.
The first-inning barrage of six consecutive hits included homers by Kris Bryant and Contreras and a triple by former Marlin Chris Coghlan.
It would have been worse but Marcell Ozuna made a shoe-top catch on leadoff hitter Jason Heyward’s sinking liner in center.
All of the Marlins’ runs in the first were unearned because of an error by shortstop Addison Russell that allowed Derek Dietrich to reach. Two-out walks to Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton set the stage for Bour, who sent a two-out cutter from Hendricks into the shrubbery in dead center for his 13th homer — his previous grand slam was as a pinch hitter June 10 at Arizona.
Although estimated at 436 feet by Statcast, Bour’s blast would not have been a homer before the fence in that area was moved closer to the plate this season. It was the second Marlins homer facilitated by the revised dimensions, while opponents have benefited four times.
Hits, so cheap in the initial frame, became precious after that. Bour, Bryant and Contreras each struck out the next time up after their homers.
Neither team got another hit until the fourth when the Cubs put two runners on. Koehler left them there by striking out Bryant for the second time, freezing him with a fastball on the inside corner.
Koehler saw his command waver in the fifth but got Javier Baez to hit into a bail-out double play.
Baez, the Cubs third baseman, made the play of the night diving into the stands to grab J.T. Realmuto’s pop foul after a lengthy run.
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