Tucker’s 2-run single completes 4-run rally in 9th as Astros sweep skidding Cubs, 7-6
HOUSTON - Kyle Tucker’s two-run single capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Houston Astros beat the skidding Chicago Cubs 7-6 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.
"We had some real heroes tonight," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "The guys came through. It was a wonderful win. That was the win of the year."
Chicago built a 6-1 lead in the fourth behind two early homers from Seiya Suzuki and one by Christopher Morel.
But the Astros roared back late, scoring twice in the eighth before cutting the deficit to one on a two-run homer by Jake Meyers off Keegan Thompson with nobody out in the ninth. Thompson walked pinch-hitter Mauricio Dubón and was replaced by Brandon Hughes (0-2), who was greeted by Jeremy Peña’s double.
Hughes intentionally walked Alex Bregman to load the bases before Dubón was thrown out at the plate on a grounder by Yordan Alvarez.
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Tucker then lined a single to center field. Bregman slid home with the winning run just before catcher Yan Gomes got the tag down. The play was reviewed and the call was confirmed.
"It’s really nice collectively to have a lot of good (at-bats) there in the ninth inning against some really good pitchers," Tucker said. "Coming back against a really good team is nice."
Bregman had been thrown out at the plate in the sixth on a hit by Tucker and knew he couldn’t let it happen again.
"I guess I saved enough in the legs from the first time for that one," Bregman joked. "Tucker would have killed me if I got thrown out twice for him."
Bregman homered in the first and tied a season high with three hits as the Astros extended their winning streak to four games.
Suzuki, who also homered in the ninth inning Tuesday night, kept it going with a solo shot in the first off rookie J.P. France before smacking a two-run drive off him in the third to make it 5-1.
Suzuki became the first Japanese-born player to homer in three straight plate appearances in the majors and the first Cubs hitter to do it since Kris Bryant on May 17, 2019.
It was the second career multi-homer game for Suzuki, who is in his second MLB season after playing professionally in Japan for nine seasons. Suzuki, who walked twice, singled in the sixth to equal a season high with three hits.
Morel went deep for the second time this series with his home run in the fourth inning, but Houston’s late rally sent the Cubs to their fifth consecutive loss.
"We’ve got to win that game," manager David Ross said. "We’ve got to pitch better on the back end. Offense did enough tonight, played good defense overall. We’ve got to cash that win in."
The bullpen collapse spoiled a strong start by Drew Smyly, who yielded four hits and one run with eight strikeouts in six innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in his last eight starts.
France, who made his major league debut May 6, allowed nine hits and six runs — both season highs — in 3 2/3 innings. Bryan Abreu (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Peña tripled to start the Houston eighth and scored on a double by Bregman to trim the deficit to 6-2. José Abreu’s two-out single scored Bregman, but Mark Leiter Jr. struck out Chas McCormick to end the inning.
Morel drew a leadoff walk before a triple by Dansby Swanson made it 1-0 in the first. A sacrifice fly by Ian Happ made it 2-0 before Suzuki padded the lead with his first homer of the night.
Bregman’s solo shot with one out in the bottom half cut the margin to 3-1.
Happ doubled to start the third before Suzuki sent a slider from France to the seats in left field to make it 5-1.
Bregman singled with one out in the sixth before Tucker doubled off the wall in left field with two outs. But Bregman was thrown out at home on the play with a great throw by Happ to end the inning.
Cubs: CF Cody Bellinger was out of the lineup for a second straight game after injuring his knee making an acrobatic catch Monday night. Ross said Bellinger would likely return Friday.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve was scheduled to return to Houston on Thursday after playing his second rehabilitation game for Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday night. Altuve, who hasn’t played for the Astros this season after breaking his right thumb in the World Baseball Classic, is expected to make his debut sometime this weekend.
Both teams are off Thursday before Chicago opens a series at Philadelphia and Houston plays the first of three games against Oakland on Friday night.