Rangers top Cubs 11-10 after falling behind former ace again

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Two straight days facing their former aces, two straight early deficits. And now two straight wins for the rebuilding Texas Rangers against the World Series-or-bust Chicago Cubs.

Joey Gallo scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Rangers outscored the Cubs 11-10 on Sunday after falling behind Cole Hamels much the same way they did against Yu Darvish a day earlier.

With one out and Chicago playing five infielders, Gallo raced home from third base when Pedro Strop’s pitch to Nomar Mazara bounced past catcher Willson Contreras and high onto the net behind home plate to give the Rangers a series win after the Cubs’ 12-4 victory on opening day.

“There’s like a belief already in three games,” first-year Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “Incredible for me to watch because I’m just hearing it, I’m feeling it and then it’s showing up obviously in the results.”

Jose Leclerc (1-0) stopped a Chicago rally in the eighth and got the last four outs for Texas. Strop (0-1) allowed Gallo’s leadoff double in the ninth, a high drive just over leaping left fielder Ben Zobrist at the wall. Pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo’s groundout moved Gallo up.

Hamels couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead, allowing Delino DeShields‘ first career grand slam for a 5-4 deficit a day after Darvish took the mound for Chicago up 3-0 before walking seven of his first 13 hitters and failing to get through the third inning.

The Japanese star who spent his first five-plus major league seasons with the Rangers was long gone by the time the Cubs finally lost the lead on Gallo’s three-run homer in the eighth inning of an 8-6 Texas win.

“We know how tough and how good of a pitcher they are,” said Elvis Andrus, the longest-tenured Rangers player now in his 11th season. “So for us to stick to a plan and just believe that something good’s going to happen, regardless of if we’re down.”

Chicago answered DeShields’ slam with a barrage of run-scoring singles before reliever Mike Montgomery gave up a tying, two-run triple to Mazara and Asdrubal Cabrera’s second two-run homer in two days, a high fly that grazed the foul pole in left for a 10-8 Texas lead.

The Cubs got even again in the eighth on Anthony Rizzo’s first homer , an upper-deck solo shot to right, and Daniel Descalso’s third hit — one of seven RBI singles for the Cubs.

Ultimately, the Chicago bullpen faltered again. Montgomery didn’t retire any of his three batters a day after Carl Edwards Jr. let all four of his reach, including Gallo’s go-ahead homer. Chicago relievers have given up 11 runs in two games.

“We do have to nip this in the bud,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I do anticipate our guys will. There’s a lot of good names down there. Just one guy that had a tough time. Monty’s the guy that was the difference-maker tonight.”

Jason Heyward, Zobrist, Rizzo and Javier Baez drove in a run apiece in the sixth inning before Jeff Mathis, celebrating his 36th birthday, homered to get Texas to 8-6.

Hamels, acquired from the Rangers before the July 31 trade deadline last year, lost his shutout on Cabrera’s sacrifice fly in the fourth. Consecutive walks from the left-hander set up DeShields’ liner into the first row above the 14-foot wall in left field.

“That team’s a tough team,” Hamels said. “They hit the long ball. They’ve done it for years. I’m pretty knowledgeable on what those guys can do, the damage, and you just have to make pitches. We really just need to narrow down, just making sure that we hit our spots.”

TEXAS DEBUT

Lance Lynn lost his only lead in his Texas debut by allowing a double to Descalso and Heyward’s run-scoring hit to start the sixth. Lynn came out after Zobrist’s second RBI single, and Jesse Chavez gave up singles to all three hitters he faced.

NIFTY SNAG

Kyle Schwarber opened the scoring with his second solo homer in two games, a shot to left in the second that Cubs reliever Randy Rosario snagged in his cap while sitting in a bullpen chair.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks is set for Atlanta’s home opener on Monday. Hendricks, who led the Cubs with a career-high 33 starts last season, is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four appearances against the Braves.

Rangers: LHP Drew Smyly is scheduled for his first major league start since September 2016 in his Texas debut at home against Houston on Monday. Smyly, acquired from the Cubs in November, had Tommy John surgery in July 2017.