Rondon caps Cubs' promising relief effort

Following extensive struggles, bullpen allows one hit in three scoreless innings to preserve win

Rondon caps Cubs' promising relief effort

CHICAGO -- It was a much better night for the Cubs' bullpen on Monday.

In the last nine games, Chicago relievers had compiled an 0-4 record and given up 24 earned runs over 28 2/3 innings for a 7.53 ERA. On Monday, Justin Grimm, Zac Rosscup and Hector Rondon combined to give up one hit over three scoreless innings in the Cubs' 4-3 win over the Mets.

Jon Lester picked up the win despite giving up back-to-back home runs to Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores in the sixth which pulled the Mets within one run.

"It got a little tight right there [in the sixth]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's always wonderful when you never relinquish the lead."

Rizzo turns huge double play

Maddon met with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer on Monday to discuss the state of the bullpen. There are no plans to switch Rondon from his role as closer -- and he picked up his seventh save Monday. Maddon said the only issue with the right-hander in his last outing was pitch selection.

"The biggest thing we've had a problem with is we've been putting guys in different spots and you expect a different result," Maddon said. "That doesn't stop you from using them. I think a part of it is execution and picking the right pitch out of the bag. Overall, I have a lot of confidence in all these guys, and getting Grimm back makes it thicker."

Grimm was making his third appearance since coming off the disabled list. The Cubs also expect right-hander Neil Ramirez to return soon from the DL. He's been sidelined with a right shoulder strain and threw a bullpen session on Monday in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' complex. In a perfect world, Ramirez could join the Cubs in a couple of weeks.

"As we move forward, getting everybody healthy and keep giving guys opportunity on the right hitters, I think it will work out well," Maddon said.

Castro's spectacular catch

• The Cubs signed right-hander Felipe Paulino, 31, to a Minor League deal. He spent last season with the White Sox but totaled just 18 1/3 innings before he was shut down with a shoulder injury. In that brief time, Paulino gave up 35 hits and compiled an 11.29 ERA. He had signed a Minor League deal with the Red Sox in the offseason but was released at the end of camp.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.