CHICAGO – Marcus Stroman pitched six sparkling innings and Cody Bellinger hit a go-ahead RBI single, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the Texas Rangers 2-0 on Friday.
Stroman (2-0) allowed two hits, struck out six and walked three in his 200th career start. The right-hander also tossed six innings in a 4-0 victory over Milwaukee on opening day.
“His ball moves so much I can see it from center field,” Bellinger said.
Stroman said pitching in the World Baseball Classic provided a boost.
“For sure,” he said. “In 2017 when I played in the WBC I feel I had one of the best starts to my season. I came out and threw 200 innings.
“I feel it puts you in that competitive mind frame and gets you going much earlier than spring training, where you can go through the motions at that time.”
Chicago went ahead to stay against Nathan Eovaldi (1-1) in the fourth. Dansby Swanson reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second before coming home on Bellinger’s single to right.
Ian Happ added an RBI double in the sixth, driving in Tucker Barnhart.
Eovaldi (1-1) allowed five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one.
Texas loaded the bases with two out in the sixth, but Stroman retired Josh Jung on a grounder to second.
“We get men on base and we had the right guys up and he made some pitches when he had to,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said.
Mark Leiter Jr. worked the seventh for Chicago, and Michael Fulmer finished the three-hitter for his first save with his new team.
Leiter appeared to be just finishing his follow-through in the seventh when Brad Miller smacked a liner to his glove side. But the reliever managed to catch the ball, ending the inning. Swanson added a nifty backhanded stop at shortstop in the ninth before Eric Hosmer dug out the throw to rob Jung of a hit.
Rangers: Josh Smith started in left field in his first action since being struck in the jaw by a pitch in Monday’s loss to Baltimore. He was hit in the lower leg by a Stroman pitch in the sixth but stayed in the game. … Leody Tavaras (oblique) is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list but the outfielder will get at least one more start at Double-A Frisco.
The Rangers’ Martín Perez (1-0, 1.59 ERA) faces fellow left-hander Justin Steele (0-0, 0.00) on Saturday afternoon.