For Chicago Cubs rookie Ben Brown, his next big-league outing was a chance to settle in

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Justin Steele understood how Ben Brown might be feeling after his major-league debut Saturday.

As Brown and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy were going over his rough first outing in which he allowed five hits, six runs, two walks and struck out one against the Texas Rangers, Steele approached and offered some encouragement, explaining how when he pitched in his first big-league game in April 2021, he didn’t know where the ball was going. Steele walked a batter, hit another, gave up a hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings during his debut against Milwaukee.

“You at least had control of what you were trying to do, I couldn’t feel my hands,” Steele told Brown.

“That was probably the best part about moving forward was the love I got from the other guys,” Brown said. “In a situation like that, you tend to think you’re alone, and then all of a sudden you get opened up to so many different perspectives.”

The uplifting exchange stood out to Hottovy, who commended how the Cubs pitching staff pulls for each other.

“They know, they’ve been there,” Hottovy said. “Developing young pitchers, young players in the big leagues is knowing you’re going to struggle at some point. You’re going to hit some adversity and when you know that and you recognize that, you go through and see what you did. Yeah, it was six runs, but it could have been one, could have been two. There’s a lot of things that could have went differently, that could have went your way. Understand that and what you do really well and then just keep building off that.

“I think having guys that have gone through it — (Jameson Taillon) and Steele and (Kyle) Hendricks and guys Ben has looked up to and trusted for a long time saying the same things, it’s a nice message.”

Brown bounced back in a big way Wednesday night in a 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies.

The 24-year-old started the second inning and tossed four-plus innings on a rainy night at Wrigley Field, limiting the Rockies to one run that scored after he exited the game. Brown allowed three hits and one walk while recording five strikeouts, including Kris Bryant twice, on 52 pitches. He exited after Jacob Stalling’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Brown didn’t change much in three days between his outings, instead sticking to what he does best.

Photos: Chicago Cubs 9, Colorado Rockies 8

“One blip in the road isn’t gonna change my routine or my repertoire and I think that’s the big difference between where I was at last year,” Brown said. “There was so much tweaking and second-guessing myself, but hopefully I’m more confident this year.

“I eliminated those uncompetitive pitches and I filled up the zone the way I wanted to.”

Brown’s four-seam fastball and curveball combination kept Colorado in check. The two pitches featured a nearly 10 mph difference, and the drastic velocity change appeared to help their effectiveness. Brown threw 18 curveballs, producing four called strikes and six whiffs.

Manager Craig Counsell called Brown’s curveball exceptional and praised how he shut down Colorado’s right-handed hitters.

“It felt like he was on the attack tonight and that worked out for him,” Counsell said.

Although Brown took the bulk of the innings Wednesday, the Cubs opted to start lefty reliever Luke Little.

Multiple factors went into the decision. Counsell cited a fresh bullpen after Shota Imanaga and Javier Assad both went six innings the previous two games on top of the Rockies consistently using a lineup that features two left-handed hitters — Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon — in the top three spots of the order.

“You also do it really to kind of change the job of maybe the guy that goes length and maybe they don’t face the top of the order as many times,” Counsell said.

A generally well-rested bullpen proved important as the Rockies chipped when the Cubs entered the seventh with a six-run lead. A five spot in the top of the eighth tied the game and put the Cubs in a tight spot with only Adbert Alzolay and Drew Smyly still available in the bullpen, though Smyly might have been limited after throwing 19 pitches and two innings Monday.

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Fortunately, the Cubs offense broke through in the bottom of the inning. Miles Mastrobuoni reached on a leadoff dropped third strike, Ian Happ followed with a single to put runners on the corners and Seiya Suzuki drove in his fourth run on a go-ahead fielder’s choice. Alzolay secured his first save of the season.

“It was a crazy game,” Counsell said. “There were tough conditions tonight for both sides for sure. It’s a game you want to come out with a win and we found a way to come up with a win.”

Although Little pitched the ninth in Tuesday night’s 12-2 win, Counsell said the ease of his inning, with Little needing only 12 pitches to end the game, contributed to the Cubs feeling comfortable sending him out for the start Wednesday.

Little became the first Cubs pitcher to finish a game and start the next one since Rick Reuschel on May 2, 1976, at San Francisco and May 4, 1976, at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Warren Hacker was the last to do it against the same team May 1-2, 1955, at the Philadelphia Phillies, according to team historian Ed Hartig.

Counsell had hoped then when Brown made his next debut those unique feelings that come with a player making his big-league debut would be gone and he could settle in and continue pitching to his strengths. That played out Wednesday.

“I think every player understands there are better players here, this is a better league, I’ve got to be just a little bit better,” Counsell said. “I don’t have to be any different, but they’re going to make me pay for mistakes a little more, a little more competitive on every pitch so it’s really subtle adjustments that you keep trying to make and as you pitch more you make those adjustments.”

With the Cubs using a bullpen day Wednesday, they don’t need to fill Steele’s rotation spot again until Tuesday in San Diego. Although Taillon is eligible to come off the 15-day injured list on that date, he won’t be ready to return. Taillon is scheduled to make his first rehab start Sunday at Double-A Tennessee due to potential weather issues at Triple-A Iowa. Counsell stated Wednesday that Taillon will need multiple rehab outings before joining the rotation.