By Steven S. Garcia
Houston, TX-(ENEWSPF)- The Cubs (30-23) were at Minute Maid Park last evening for the third and final game of their interleague series with the AL West-leading Houston Astros (37-10) and trying to avoid a series sweep. The Cubs hadn’t been swept since the Atlanta Braves did so in the beginning of April at SunTrust Park. Riding on a three-game losing streak, the team was in need of a solid and lengthy outing from Kyle Hendricks (4-4 3.34) to rest an already overworked bullpen.
Third-baseman Kris Bryant was back in the lineup and hitting DH Wednesday after missing the last two games following an outfield collision with Jason Heyward on Sunday.
The Northsiders jumped on the board first when Kyle Schwarber took the third pitch of the game from Wade Miley to opposite-field over the left field wall for his 10th home run of the season to put the Cubs on top 1-0.
The Astros presented a scoring threat in the bottom of the 1st when Michael Brantley hit a two-out double to left. Hendricks got Yuli Gurriel to go down looking following a passed ball to end the inning.
Two innings later in the 3rd, with two outs and the bags empty, Kris Bryant, who is having a spectacular month of May, took a 1-1 pitch from Miley deep to center just to the right of the 409ft mark for his 13th round-tripper of the year and increase the Cubs’ lead 2-0.
A scary moment occurred in the top of the 4th when Albert Almora Jr. hit a line-drive into the stands that hit a young child. As soon as Almora saw the ball hit the young girl, he was instantly distraught, fell to his knees, and started to sob. A man, presumably her father rushed her up the aisle to seek immediate medical attention. Almora was being consoled by teammate Jason Heyward, manager Joe Maddon, and Houston pitcher Wade Miley. Players from both sides could only watch in horror as to what had happened.
After a stoppage in play, Almora regained his composure and finished his at-bat and when the half-inning was over, he went over to the area where the girl was sitting to talk with the security guard how the girl was. The security guard hugged a tearful Almora with Heyward and Javier by his side.
Almora, a father of two young boys, told reporters after the game, “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her. I had to keep my composure during that at-bat, but when the inning was over, I just couldn’t hold it anymore. God willing, I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now. That’s all I could really control.”
The severity of the girl’s injuries is still unknown, but she is expected to be OK.”
After Hendricks sat down the previous seven Astros’ hitters, Houston got a run across in the 4th when Josh Reddick hit a sacrifice fly to center-field after an Alex Bregman leadoff double off the wall and a single by Michael Brantley, to score Bregman to cut the Chicago lead to 2-1.
The Astros’ Tyler White hit a leadoff double off the bottom of the wall to start the bottom of the 5th to create another scoring opportunity for Houston. Tony Kemp followed with up with a hard-hit one-hopper to David Bote who threw over to Javier Baez at 3rd to get White out at 3rd. Hendricks struck-out Derek Fisher to end the inning.
In the 7th, Hendricks hit Robinson Chirinos and Tony Kemp to put runners on 1st and 2nd. With two outs, Hendricks got Jake Marisnick to strike-out swinging to end the inning for Houston.
Hendricks left the game after eight innings allowing only 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 7 and walking 4.
Steve Cishek came in to pitch the bottom of the 9th and pitched a clean 1-2-3 inning to close it out and end the Cubs’ losing streak and collect his 5th save of the season.
Hendricks earned his 5th win of the season to improve his record to 5-4 and lowered his ERA to 3.09.
Kris Bryant said about his return, “I felt good a lot sooner than I thought. I did everything yesterday. Everything felt good. That’s all I needed to see to give me the confidence I’m totally fine. There’s a process we as players have to go through when you come out of a game with a head injury. I guess I just moreso appreciate the doctors and the league taking care of us in that way.”
“Today was the best I’ve felt mentally. Just keep it simple. Make good pitches. Today, I really did that. There were only four pitches I didn’t execute. It was the best execution I’ve had. Willy and I were just locked in together. Same page all day long. That’s where I’ve got to stay moving forward,” said Hendricks.
The Cubs have the day off today and travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals for a three-game series beginning tomorrow evening at 7:15 PM with Yu Darvish (2-3 5.40) vs. Miles Mikolas (4-5 4.76).
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