May 15, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman (2) rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Bregman’s homer lifts Astros to 6-4 win over Cubs
The Astros started their six-game homestand in the win column after Alex Bregman’s seventh-inning home run helped them to a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. The homer was Bregman’s second hit of the game, and it broke a 4-4 tie. Mauricio Dubón finished with three hits and scored two runs, while José Abreu and Chas McCormick added a pair of hits for the Astros, who have won five of their last six games.
Shaky defense aids big first inning
After the Cubs went down in order in the top of the first, the Astros grabbed an early lead in the bottom half of the inning. Mauricio Dubón led off with a single , and Yordan Alvarez followed with another after Alex Bregman flied out. Kyle Tucker followed by grounding out to second, and it looked like Jameson Taillon was going to get out of the inning. Instead, Christopher Morel misplayed José Abreu’s routine fly ball to deep center field, charging Taillon with allowing a two-run double.
The Astros did not stop after two runs. Jeremy Peña followed Abreu’s double with an RBI single, and Chas McCormick capped the inning with an RBI double to make it 4-0.
Framber Valdez squanders the lead
A four-run lead is usually more than enough for the Astros ace, who entered the game with a 2.38 ERA, and he looked unhittable early on. Valdez generated five swinging strikes while striking out the side in the first, and stranded a pair of runners in the second. He struck out Nick Madrigal and Morel to start the third, but found himself in a bit of trouble when Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ reached with two out. Valdez would escape the third by inducing Seiya Suzuki to ground into a fielder’s choice, but he wasn’t so lucky in the fourth.
Cody Bellinger and Trey Mancini singled on each end of a Patrick Wisdom strikeout, and Yan Gomes put the Cubs on the board with a sacrifice fly. Madrigal singled to keep the inning alive and bring Morel, the tying run, to the plate. Morel fell behind 0-2, but Valdez hung a cutter and the Cubs rookie launched it 401 feet for a game-tying home run.
Valdez finished the fourth, but did not go out for the fifth, making Monday’s outing the first time in 40 starts including postseason that he has not pitched into the fifth inning. The Astros bullpen picked him up, as Phil Maton worked around a two-out walk to put up a zero in the fifth, Seth Martinez tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning, and Rafael Montero faced the minimum in the seventh.
Bregman breaks the tie
The Astros offense was notably quiet after the four-run first inning, but they rallied with two outs in the seventh. Dubón singled for his third hit of the game, and Bregman sent a first pitch cutter into the second row of the Crawford Boxes for his fifth home run of the season. Bregman’s homer left the bat at 94.9 MPH with an xBA of .180, and would’ve been a homer in only six of baseball’s 30 ballparks.
The Astros bullpen finished the job, as Ryne Stanek struck out the side in the eighth and Hector Neris struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save of the season.
News and Notes:
•Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans threw out the first pitch.
•Former Astros first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini received his World Series ring before the game.
•Yordan Alvarez finished 1-for-2 with two walks, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, and he has reached in all 35 games he’s played in this season.
•Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (thumb) will continue his rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday. He finished 1-for-13 in three games with Sugar Land over the Weekend.
The Astros and Cubs will play the middle game of their three-game series on Tuesday night with Cristian Javier (3-1) starting opposite Justin Steele (6-0).