MINNEAPOLIS — — Rookie Matt Mervis crushed a tying RBI double in a seventh-inning breakthrough for the Cubs, who rallied to beat Minnesota 6-2 after being stymied by Twins starter Sonny Gray on Friday night.
Yan Gomes had the go-ahead single in the seventh, Christopher Morel tacked on a two-run homer in the ninth and Drew Smyly (4-1) pitched six strong innings to fuel the Cubs on the opening night of a nine-game trip.
Gray, the major league ERA leader among qualified pitchers at 1.39, gave the Twins another stellar turn with nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings with four hits and one run allowed.
Manager Rocco Baldelli gave the ball to Jovani Moran to finish the sixth by retiring Ian Happ — who had three hits — and Cody Bellinger, but Griffin Jax (2-5) stumbled in the seventh and lost the lead on four straight one-out hits.
Mervis had the hardest-hit ball of all — tracked at 108.5 mph and 408 feet — when he drove a first-pitch changeup over center fielder Michael Taylor and into the bottom of the padding where the wall meets the warning track to drive in Patrick Wisdom. Mervis made his major league debut a week ago.
Smyly surrendered four hits and two runs with four strikeouts against the worst-hitting team in the major leagues to win his fourth consecutive decision.
The Twins (21-18) had only four hits and have scored just 30 runs in 10 games this month. They’ve still been in first place in the AL Central for all but two days this season, but this was their fourth game in May with four hits or fewer.
Carlos Correa, who hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh to lead a 5-3 victory over San Diego on Thursday, grounded into two inning-ending double plays and was booed again by the fans at Target Field expecting more production after his $200 million signing. The jeers would’ve been more pronounced had it not been for the hearty contingent of Cubs fans among the crowd of 30,037.
Correa went 1 for 4 with a double and is batting .193. Byron Buxton went 0 for 3 to stretch his hitless streak to 25 straight at-bats.
The Cubs (19-19) are third in batting average and fifth in ERA in the major leagues but merely at the .500 mark, trailing Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Cubs: 2B Nick Hoerner was placed on the injured list prior to the game with a strained left hamstring, with the hope of a minimum 10-day stay retroactive to Tuesday. Morel took his place in the field and in the leadoff spot, and Miles Mastrobuoni was called up from Triple-A Iowa.
Twins: Royce Lewis began his rehab assignment at 3B on Thursday for Double-A Wichita, going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in his first game since tearing his right ACL with the Twins on May 29, 2022.
Cubs: RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 3.93 ERA) pitches on Saturday afternoon. He has allowed just one run in each of his last three starts.
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (5-1, 2.45 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series. He has finished six or more innings in all seven turns, allowing two or fewer runs in five of them.
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