Astros 7, Cubs 3

Jordan Lyles didn’t get the win in his major league debut, but
he certainly made a big splash.

The 20-year-old right-hander pitched seven brilliant innings,
but earned a no-decision as the Houston Astros came back to beat
the Chicago Cubs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

”That first inning I went out there and got the ball from the
third baseman, I just stood on the mound and took it all in,”
Lyles said. ”It’s a once in a lifetime type of opportunity and I
couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Lyles committed a throwing error in the eighth which cost him a
chance to earn his first big league victory. He scattered five hits
and struck out four. He gave up two runs, both in the eighth
inning.

After a Geovany Soto leadoff double in the eighth, Lyles tried
to gun down pinch runner Brad Snyder at third on Tyler Colvin’s
pinch-hit sacrifice bunt. The throw sailed off the tip of third
baseman Chris Johnson’s glove and into left field, allowing Snyder
to score and tie the game at 1-1.

”I had my mind made up that I was going to go to third with it.
I just dropped my arm a little bit and it tailed away from
(Johnson).”

Darwin Barney doubled off Wilton Lopez after Lyles was pulled to
give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Aramis Ramirez doubled in Barney and
finished with three hits – two doubles.

Lyles was starting in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez, who
is on the 15-day disabled list with swelling in his left elbow.

”He was throwing everything for strikes, keeping guys
off-balance, throwing exactly how we saw him throw in spring
training,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. ”He lived up to every
expectation of every Astros fan, the management, the organization
… everything.”

Cubs closer Carlos Marmol blew his third save of the season,
allowing six runs in the ninth inning to send the Cubs to their
fourth loss in five games.

Matt Downs’ pinch-hit, two-run double tied the game and Michael
Bourn singled in the go-ahead run off Marmol (1-2). Hunter Pence
added a three-run shot for the Astros.

Downs has four hits and four RBIs in 14 plate appearances as a
pinch-hitter. He said it wasn’t easy to get used to at first, but
he’s getting the hang of it.

”You get into the game real quick because your adrenaline is
running,” Downs said. ”I’ve done it enough this year that I’m
getting used to it. It’s getting easier and easier to be mentally
prepared for it.”

Pence finished with three hits, extending his hit streak to 12
games. He’s hitting .451 (23 for 51) over that span.

Fernando Rodriguez Jr.(1-0) got the final out in the eighth to
earn his first career win.

Marmol faced seven batters and recorded just one out, a
sacrifice bunt. He hadn’t allowed a run in 13 1-3 innings before
the blowup.

”It was a bad day. What can you do about it,” Marmol said.
”They swung at your best pitch (slider) and they hit it.”

Brett Wallace led off the fourth inning with a solo homer off
Carlos Zambrano to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Zambrano settled down to retire the next 11 batters, including
six by strikeouts. The streak was broken up by Lyles’ first career
hit, a soft single under the glove of first baseman Carlos
Pena.

Wallace’s home run was the lone blemish on Zambrano’s outing.
The righty allowed seven hits over eight innings and struck out
seven.

Lyles ran into trouble in the fifth inning when Blake DeWitt’s
leadoff pop-up to shallow left field fell to the ground untouched
in a moment of miscommunication between shortstop Clint Barmes and
left fielder Carlos Lee. DeWitt was credited with a double and
advanced to third on a Tony Campana sacrifice bunt.

But the righty promptly struck out Soto and Zambrano to end the
threat. Zambrano broke his bat over his knee out of frustration
after going down swinging.

Lyles, the youngest active player in the Major Leagues at 20
years and 224 days, surrendered his first hit to Starlin Castro,
the second youngest player in the majors. Castro, who turned 21 on
March 24, tripled to right field in the first inning but failed to
score. Lyles struck out Castro in his next at-bat.

Notes: Astros OF Jason Bourgeois (strained left oblique) took
live batting practice Tuesday and is scheduled to play rehab games
Thursday through Saturday with Triple-A Oklahoma City if all goes
well. … RHP Brandon Lyon (right biceps tendinitis and rotator
tear) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday in San Diego.
… Cubs RHP Matt Garza (elbow) is doubtful for a return this
weekend at St. Louis, as the club initially hoped for. Manager Mike
Quade said the team wants to play it safe and give Garza an extra
side session. He will be able to start during the Cincinnati series
June 6-8.