CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant homered in his return to the lineup and Alec Mills pitched seven effective innings, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on Monday night for their fourth consecutive win.

Javier Báez had a sacrifice fly and a nice play in the field as NL Central-leading Chicago improved to 8-2 for the first time since 2016. Bryant also doubled in the first after missing two games with a stomach ailment.

Mills (2-0) allowed three hits, struck out four and walked three on a wet, windy night at Wrigley Field. The right-hander got a chance to start when José Quintana opened the season on the 10-day injured list, but Mills is making a strong bid to keep his spot in the rotation.

Kansas City wasted a solid performance by Danny Duffy, who pitched six innings of one-run ball. The Royals finished with five hits in their fourth straight loss.

Bryant connected for his first homer of the season in the seventh, hitting a drive to center off Ian Kennedy. Casey Sadler then got the first two outs of the eighth for Chicago before Rowan Wick finished for his second save.

Cubs manager David Ross is trying to stay away from Craig Kimbrel while the closer works on his mechanics after a rough start to the season.

Mills allowed two runners in each of the first two innings and one more in the third and fourth, but danced out of trouble each time. He got Franchy Cordero to bounce to first with runners on the corners for the final out of the first.

Mills got some help when Báez made a slick tag at second to catch Adalberto Mondesi attempting to steal in the fourth, ending the inning. Third baseman David Bote also made a great, barehand play to rob Mondesi of a hit in the seventh.

Duffy (0-2) matched Mills zero for zero until the fifth. The Cubs loaded the bases on two walks and a single. After Anthony Rizzo popped out, Báez drove in Nico Hoerner with a liner to right for a sacrifice fly.

Duffy then coaxed Willson Contreras into an inning-ending groundout, but the damage was done. The left-hander allowed three hits, struck out six and walked four in his third start of the season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: Quintana (thumb surgery) threw 30 pitches during a bullpen. He is scheduled for a two-inning simulated game Thursday at the team’s alternate site in South Bend, Indiana.

UP NEXT

Right-handers Brady Singer and Kyle Hendricks get the ball when the series resumes Tuesday night. Singer (0-0, 3.60 ERA) is making his third major league start for Kansas City on his 24th birthday. Hendricks (1-1, 4.05 ERA) is looking to bounce back after he allowed six runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in Chicago’s 12-7 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday night.

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