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Astros drop pitching duel to Cubs, 2-1

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Miley strikes out season-high nine in tough-luck loss

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros lineup looked more like a mashup of a Spring Training squad than a Major League team nearing June. Even if the Astros were fully stocked, it may not have mattered Wednesday night against Kyle Hendricks, who quietly threw a dominant eight innings in the Chicago Cubs 2-1 win over the Astros to avert a sweep.

In his first career start against the Astros, Hendricks allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven. Hendricks has been on a roll for over a month now. Since allowing seven runs at Arizona on April 26, Hendricks has allowed only nine runs and lasted at least eight innings in four of six starts (44 2/3 innings).

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Wade Miley was on top of his game for the Astros, too, though he had an inauspicious start to his outing after Kyle Schwarber slugged a leadoff homer into the Crawford Boxes on the second pitch of the night. The blast was Schwarber’s 10th of the season, though it took an uncommon path to the seats.

Miley set down the next three Cubs, including two strike outs, to seemingly settle in.

Following a clean second inning, Miley surrendered Kris Bryant’s 13th homer of the season to extend the Cubs’ lead to 2-0. The two solo shots for the Cubs marked the first time Miley allowed multiple home runs in a game since joining Houston.

A leadoff double by Alex Bregman started the fourth inning for the Astros’ offense and was followed by a single from Michael Brantley to put runners at the corners and no outs. The hit was Brantley’s second of the evening, giving him an MLB-best 26 multi-hit games.

Josh Reddick supplied the Astros’ lone run of the night on a sacrifice fly to center that Bregman narrowly beat to cut the Cubs’ lead to 2-1.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros were primed to score again an inning later when Tyler White doubled to start the bottom of the fifth. Tony Kemp followed with a hard groundball to second baseman David Bote, who fired to Javier Baez to retire White and diminish the scoring threat.

The Astros mounted one more comeback attempt in the seventh on Hendricks, who hit two batters in the inning before striking out Jake Marisnick on three pitches to strand two runners and quell the Astros’ last real promise.

Even with the tough-luck loss, Miley (5-3, 3.25) continued his stretch of quality pitching. He tossed a season-high seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits. The nine strikeouts were also a season-best for Miley, who has struck out 17 batters in his last two starts – coming against the Cubs and Boston Red Sox, two of the game’s most prodigious offenses – and allowed only three runs.

Miley has been quite effective for nearly a full season now.

Chris Devenski endured a tumultuous eight inning, surrendering a leadoff double and two walks to load the bases with two outs, but escaped unscathed by striking out Willson Contreras on a changeup to strand three Cubs.

Will Harris tossed a perfect ninth for the Astros.

Steve Cishek retired the Astros in order in the ninth to collect his fifth save.

The loss ended a season-long 10-game homestand for the Astros, who went 6-4 against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Cubs. The Astros won the first two games of each series on the homestand but were unable to complete a sweep in any of them.

In a scary moment during the fourth inning, Albert Almora, Jr. scorched a foul ball into the seats just above the visitors’ dugout that struck a young fan. Players on both teams were visibly distraught and Almora struggled to regain his focus before stepping back into the batters’ box. He struck out on the next pitch and was comforted by his teammates as he came off the field sobbing in the bottom half of the inning. According to the Astros broadcast crew, the child was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

Hendricks (5-4, 3.09) entered the night with a 2-3 record on the road and ERA of 6.00. Opposing hitters had a .319 batting average against Hendricks away from Wrigley Field and five of the six homers he had allowed this season were on the road.

Derek Fisher, who batted leadoff, failed to log a hit in a game he started for the first time this season. Fisher and White combined for six of the eight strikeouts by Cubs’ pitchers.

Box score and videos here.

The Astros will enjoy a much-needed day off Thursday as they travel to Oakland to begin a series with the Athletics. Houston will resume action on Friday when Brad Peacock (5-2, 3.19) toes the rubber for the Astros against friend-turned-foe Mike Fiers (4-3, 5.05), who has thrown baseball’s only no-hitter so far this season. First pitch is slated for 9:07 CT.