Bellinger and Hoerner Homer, Assad Pitches Career-high 7 Innings as Cubs Beat Blue Jays 6-2

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
Chicago Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki celebrates after scoring against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Toronto.

TORONTO (AP) — Cody Bellinger and Nico Hoerner homered in the first inning, Javier Assad pitched a career-high seven innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 on Friday night to improve to 7-3 in August.

After losing the finale of a three-game series against the Mets on Wednesday, the Cubs bounced back with their 17th win in 23 games.

Bellinger and Hoerner both connected off right-hander José Berríos.

“Great start for us against a good pitcher,” Hoerner said.

Hoerner went deep for the ninth time before Belinger drilled a first-pitch, two-run shot, his 18th.

“It was great to be up basically all game,” Assad said through a translator.

The Cubs are 29-14 when they hit two or more home runs.

Brandon Belt replied with a solo home run for the Blue Jays, going deep off Michael Fulmer in the eighth. The home run was Belt’s 11th.

Making his third start of the season, Assad (2-2) allowed one run and four hits, all singles. He walked one and struck out two.

“He was pumping first-pitch strikes, they were swinging,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We got a lot of early outs, which was what enabled him to go deep in the game. Never really in trouble much at all. Just a really, really nice outing.”

Assad started in place of struggling left-hander Drew Smyly, who was moved to the bullpen earlier this week. Assad is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his past 12 appearances, including two starts

“This isn’t just a guy filling in,” Hoerner said. “This is a guy throwing 94 with command of five pitches. It’s a legit mix. Not at all surprised by what he did today but it’s still impressive, for sure.”

Fulmer worked the eighth and Adbert Alzolay finished.

Since a 13-1 win at Boston last Sunday, the Blue Jays have scored nine runs in their past five games, losing three.

“We’re in a little bit of a rut right now and we’ve got to turn it around fairly quickly,” manager John Schneider said.

Chicago took advantage of an error by Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to double its lead in the fourth. Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run double and scored on a two-out single by Mike Tauchman.

Berríos (9-8) allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked none and struck out three.

Berríos came in with a 2.72 ERA in 10 home appearances this season, and hadn’t allowed more than four runs in a single start north of the border before Friday.