Cubs End Up with a Tie in Houston – Cubs 6, Astros 6

Spring Training Game Thirty-Seven – Cubs 6, Astros 6 – 10 innings

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The Cubs and Astros played to a 6-6 tie in 10 innings on Friday night in Houston. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead then battled back and took a 6-5 lead into the eighth inning. A Michael Bowden wild pitch allowed the Astros to tie the game in the eighth … and neither one of the teams could push across a run over the final two innings.

Edwin Jackson had a rough night in Houston in his last tune-up of the spring. Jackson labored through his first two innings. Jackson had command problems, and began his outing by hitting Jose Altuve with his second pitch of the game. The Astros pounded Jackson early on before the Cubs’ right hander was able to settle down and throw strikes. Jackson served up his first longball of the spring to Marwin Gonzalez, a three-run shot in the second inning. Jackson struck out the side in the fourth in his last inning of work.

Edwin Jackson allowed five runs on five hits, one home run, with a walk, a hit batsman and nine strikeouts in four innings (80 pitches, 48 for strikes).

James Russell, Kyuji Fujikawa and Blake Parker kept the Astros off the board in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The three relievers walked three batters and struck out six while not allowing a hit in the three innings.

The Astros tied the game at six in the eighth off Michael Bowden. Bowden bounced a 1-2 pitch to George Springer that got past Steve Clevenger and allowed Trevor Crowe to score the tying run. Shawn Camp pitched out of a first and third, one out jam in the ninth by striking out the last two batters he faced … and Jaye Chapman pitched a scoreless tenth inning.

Dale Sveum played his regulars for a majority of the game. Welington Castillo was the only position player that did not play all nine on Friday night. The offense had a good night, and put six runs on the board.

The Cubs grinded out at bats and the patience paid off. Three of the nine hits went for extra bases and there was very little weak contact. The team walked five times while striking out nine times against nine different Astros’ hurlers.

Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with two runs and a sac bunt) collected a pair of hits and dropped down a sac bunt in the ninth. David DeJesus (2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk) reached base in three of his five plate appearances. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with a run scored and three walks) walked three times while Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with two RBI and a sac fly) drove in a pair of runs.

Dioner Navarro (1-for-2 with a home run) hit his fifth homer of the spring, first from the right side, in the second inning. Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) doubled in a pair of runs in the first inning. Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a RBI) and Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and a walk) also contributed.

Only one more practice game before the season kicks off on Monday in Pittsburgh …

The Cubs made Alex White work in the first inning … and it really paid off. David DeJesus singled to right on a 2-2 pitch to start the game. Starlin Castro followed with a single to right (2-2 pitch). Anthony Rizzo walked (3-2) and the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs. Alfonso Soriano drove in the first run of the game with a sac fly to right. Rick Ankiel missed the cut off man and Soriano’s deep fly advanced all three batters … DeJesus scored, Castro to third and Rizzo to second. Schierholtz struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out.

Welington Castillo pulled a 0-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Both Castro and Rizzo scored on Castillo’s two-out double. Luis Valbuena grounded out to second for the third out. White threw 30 pitches in the first, 20 for strikes.

Edwin Jackson really struggled with his command in the first inning. Jackson hit Jose Altuve before walking Brett Wallace. Carlos Pena flied out to deep center, Altuve tagged and advanced to third with one down. Chris Carter pulled a 1-0 pitch into left center. Altuve and Wallace scored, 3-2. Jackson settled down and struck out both Ankiel and Maxwell swinging to end the inning.

Bo Porter went to his pen in the second inning and replaced White with lefty Kevin Chapman. Dioner Navarro put the Cubs up 4-2 with his fifth homer of the spring in the fifth.

Edwin Jackson’s struggles continued in the second inning … and the Cubs’ lead quickly evaporated. Jackson fell behind Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez and both reached on singles. Marwin Gonzalez stepped in and pulled a 1-2 pitch into the first row of seats beyond the right field wall. The Astros took a 5-4 lead on the first homer surrendered by Jackson this spring.

Jackson struck out Altuve (swinging), Wallace (swinging) and Pena (looking) to end the second inning.

Edwin Jackson settled down after the second. While he gave up hits, he kept the Astros off the board and he hit his spots a lot more often than in the first two frames. Jackson ended his outing by striking out the side in the fourth.

The Cubs offense took Jackson off the hook for a possible spring loss in the fifth. Wesley Wright took over for Jose Veras and retired David DeJesus on a pop out to Ronny Cedeno in shallow left. Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch into right for a single. A wild pitch with Rizzo at the plate allowed Castro to take second base. Rizzo looked at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Alfonso Soriano singled to left center on a 1-2 pitch. Castro scored and tied the game at five. With Soriano running, Schierholtz grounded out to a diving Brett Wallace at first to end the inning.

James Russell replaced Jackson in the fifth … and ended up picking off pinch-runner Trevor Crowe to end the inning.

Xavier Cedeno took over for the Astros in the sixth, the fifth different pitcher used by Bo Porter on Friday night. Welington Castillo hit a comebacker to the mound for the first out. Luis Valbuena pulled a 2-1 pitch from the southpaw into the gap in right center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and Valbuena slid in safe at third. Darwin Barney followed with a single to right center (2-0 pitch) past the drawn-in infield. Valbuena scored, 6-5 Cubs. Scott Hairston hit for Navarro but grounded into a 6-4-3 double play (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Kyuji Fujikawa and Blake Parker kept the Astros off the board in the sixth and seventh innings.

Michael Bowden took over in the eighth … and Houston was able to tie the game.

Trevor Crowe led off with a double to left center. Brandon Barnes bunted him to third. George Springer stepped in with the tying run on third and one down. Bowden jumped ahead 1-2 before bouncing one in front of the plate that Steve Clevenger was unable to block. Crowe hustled home and tied the game at six. Bowden struck out Springer and retired Carlos Corporan on a flyout to left to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth against Hector Ambriz … and the game went to the bottom of the ninth knotted up at six.

The Astros put the go ahead run on second with one out in the ninth. Ronny Cedeno then reached on an infield single to the hole at short. With Delino DeShields at third, Shawn Camp struck out Jonathan Singleton and J.D. Martinez to send the game to the tenth.

David DeJesus walked to start the tenth. Castro bunted him to second. After Josh Zeid missed on his first three pitches to Rizzo, the Astros put Rizzo on first. Alfonso Soriano drilled a 1-2 pitch toward the hole at short. Jose Martinez made an excellent stop and threw to second to start the 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

Jaye Chapman worked around a two-out error by Luis Valbuena in the tenth … and the exhibition game ended at a 6-6 tie.

The Cubs wrap up their spring slate on Saturday afternoon in Houston. Travis Wood is scheduled to face Brad Peacock.

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