Zack McKinstry and Marcus Stroman lift the Chicago Cubs above the Colorado Rockies

Zack Mckinstry went hitless for his first six games in September. Maybe he was just saving his production, because since then the former Los Angeles Dodger has slashed .444/.444/1.056 in his last 18 plate appearances.

Leading against Germán Márquez to start the ball game, McKinstry lined up a ball on the wall in center field. Tangled in the ivy, Randal Grichuk got the Chicago Cubs second baseman to third on the play.

Pushed in a batter later on an Ian Happ single, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish.

Seeking to be a changed man, McKinstry was the soul of the Cubs’ Friday roster. His fifth-inning solo home run, the fourth of his season, proved to be all the offense the Cubs would need. Now leading 2-0, Chicago starter Marcus Stroman had a cushion.

He had already silenced the Colorado batters for five innings entirely. Aside from a hit-per-pitch and a walk, they hadn’t managed a baserunner, no-hitter through five. When the Cubs signed Stroman to a two-year, $50 million deal this offseason, he was the pitcher they were looking for, not the man they got in the first half.

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In the sixth, Ryan McMahon ended Stroman’s no-hitter bid with a solo home run deep into the seats of left center field. Still, it was the only run Stroman, and the Cubs’ pitching team as a whole, allowed in the afternoon.

After a somewhat tense seventh in which Stroman hit another batter and then gave up a two-out single, he finished the inning for his final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2BB, 5K, a dominant outing of an elite-beginner level.

Brandon Hughes and Manuel Rodríguez, ever consistent, had eighth and ninth clear rounds against a minimum of six batters for the Cubs’ 62nd win of the season.

Saturday will see them look for a series win over Jose Ureña of the Rockies, with Hayden Wesneski making his first Major League start at 2:20 p.m. CST.

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Kimberly B. Nguyen