Cubs drop series opener to Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — Gerrit Cole tied a season high with 12 strikeouts in six solid innings and the Houston Astros reached Cole Hamels early and held on for a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs in the opener of an interleague series on Monday.

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer in the first inning, but Cole (5-5) dominated after that, allowing two singles and striking out 10 over the next five innings.

Playing without injured stars Jose Altuve and George Springer, and Carlos Correa, who got a day off, the Astros cut the deficit to one in the second and scored five times off Hamels (4-1) in the third to take a 6-2 lead.

Jack Mayfield made his major league debut after playing more than 600 games in seven seasons in the minors. He hit a double in his first plate appearance in the second and got his first RBI on a groundout in Houston’s big third.

Yuli Gurriel had three hits and an RBI and Derek Fisher and Alex Bregman added two hits each as the Astros won for the third time in four games.

Hamels, who had allowed just six runs combined in his last three starts, yielded seven hits and a season-high six runs in four innings for his first loss.

The Astros sent eight to the plate as they built their lead in the third. Bregman singled before Michael Brantley drew a walk. Houston tied it when Bregman scored on a single by Gurriel. A double by Robinson Chirinos scored Brantley.

Mayfield’s RBI groundout made it 4-2 before Tyler White walked. Chirinos and White both advanced a base on a wild pitch by Hamels, which led to the pitcher calling catcher Willson Contreras to the mound for a chat.

But a run-scoring single by Fisher came next and Jake Marisnick pushed the lead to 6-2 with an RBI groundout.

The Cubs were without Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward after the two were involved in an outfield collision Sunday against Cincinnati. Manager Joe Maddon said they were both still being evaluated for their injuries on Monday morning and that he’d know more about their conditions after the game. He added that Heyward was “pretty sore.”

The Cubs got going again at the plate after Cole exited, cutting the lead to 6-3 on an RBI single by David Bote in the seventh to chase Hector Rondon. Will Harris who got out of the inning when White stretched to make a tough catch on a line drive by Kyle Schwarber with two men on base.

Albert Almora Jr., homered off Roberto Osuna to start the ninth. Addison Russell added a solo shot with one out and Bote singled before Osuna struck out Schwarber. He got his 14th save when he struck out Javier Baez to end it.

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