Scott Maine returns, saves 2-1 victory

Iowa Cubs relief pitcher Scott Maine had an active streak of eight straight strikeouts when he sprained his left ankle and went on the disabled list Aug. 22.

Activated on Friday, the lefty saw his first action Sunday against Omaha. The curveball master entered the game in the ninth with his team leading 2-1.

A single and a walk later, Maine was in a jam. But he pitched out of it for his 12th save of the season before an announced crowd of 12,369 at Principal Park.

“The first couple of guys, I was just missing,” Maine said. “With my ankle and everything, I couldn’t get full extension.”

But Maine struck out Manny Pina and Kurt Mertins, then got Jarrod Dyson to ground into a force play to end the game.

Maine’s left ankle is his pushoff point, so he was a little tentative. “I’ve been throwing off the mound, but nothing simulates the game,” Maine said. “I didn’t have my velocity. But we made it work.”

Iowa also drove a Mercedes to victory. Catcher Mario Mercedes, called up to Iowa Aug. 30, tripled home Marquez Smith with the winning run in the sixth. Mercedes had struck out in his previous plate appearance.

“I don’t know what happened,” Mercedes said. “I couldn’t hit the ball. The next at-bat, I made a better adjustment and made a better swing.”

After Mercedes gave Iowa the lead, he returned behind the plate to catch Andrew Cashner in the seventh. Likely completing his rehab journey with one inning of work Sunday, Cashner retired the Storm Chasers in order in 12 pitches. He mowed down all six batters he faced in two one-inning appearances in an Iowa uniform, needing just 22 pitches.

Chris Carpenter, who also came off the disabled list this week, then came in and retired Omaha in order with a 10-pitch eighth inning, setting the table for Maine’s save.

Cashner is expected to return to Chicago as soon as Monday for the start of a series with Cincinnati at Wrigley Field. Carpenter and Maine have been with Chicago for part of this season, and could also get called up to the parent club after Iowa ends the season with a 1:05 p.m. game against Omaha Monday.

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