With Uehara ailing, Edwards finds form

With Uehara ailing, Edwards finds form

SAN FRANCISCO -- After three consecutive rocky outings during the last homestand, the Cubs called on Carl Edwards Jr. on Tuesday. The right-hander put the past behind him, retiring all three batters he faced in the seventh inning.

Entering with two runners on base, Edwards struck out Gorkys Hernandez, got Joe Panik to hit a run-scoring groundout and induced another groundout from Hunter Pence in the Cubs' 6-3 loss to the Giants. The right-hander had surrendered seven runs in his last 1 2/3 innings -- including a tiebreaking grand slam -- against the Nationals and D-backs at Wrigley Field.

Edwards relieved Koji Uehara, who left the game with neck stiffness. Uehara said he plans to take Wednesday off and use Thursday's off-day to be ready for Friday's game in Arizona.

Uehara exits with injury

Cubs manager Joe Madden was impressed with Edwards' one-inning outing in an abnormal scenario. The Cubs see potential for the righty to assume closer duties one day down the road.

"That was nice to see," said Maddon, who deliberately gave Edwards Monday off. "That was not the exact spot you would normally use him in, but it was great for him to come in there and have that success. He threw the ball extremely well and gave up the run on an absolute tapper."

Edwards did allow the Giants runner on third to score when he retired Panik. But Edwards is encouraged by his progress. He didn't walk a batter, a trend that's caused damage recently.

"Really excited about it, just due to the last two," Edwards said. "They were pretty ugly. But I feel a lot better now. I feel like I'm back to where I was. "It was just a little scuffle. Maddon said that -- everyone goes through slumps. ... I feel really good about it."

It was Edwards' first scoreless outing since he pitched 1 2/3 innings against the Brewers on July 29. Before the string of rough outings, he boasted a 2.51 ERA.

"I thought the fastball was better," Maddon said. "Command was better. The curveball was really good, too."

Maddon detected a change in Uehara's routine from the moment he left the dugout Tuesday.

"It looked awkward the way he walked," he said. "He never does that. He never misses by that much."

Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto that he's felt the stiffness the last couple of days. But asked if he's worried about its severity, Uehara was brief: "No, I'm not at all."

Worth noting

Maddon said reliever Hector Rondon has been experiencing minor back stiffness. The symptoms popped up Monday. The righty hasn't pitched since Aug. 1 when he threw 1 2/3 innings against the D-backs.

"I just wanted to stay away from him," Maddon said Tuesday. "I think he's going to be fine for tomorrow. ... I did not want to press him."

Jonathan Hawthorne is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.