HOUSTON (AP) — Chas McCormick likes to talk about a high school career where he starred in both baseball and basketball.
On Tuesday night, the center fielder showed off the skills that helps him excel on the hardwood with a leaping catch that helped the Houston Astros beat the Chicago Cubs.
Yordan Alvarez had two hits and drove in two runs and McCormick added two hits to go along with his nifty grab in the 7-3 victory.
There was a runner on first with one out in the sixth when McCormick robbed Dansby Swanson of a hit with his grab just in front of the wall in left-center.
He shared what manager Dusty Baker told him about it.
“He was like: ‘Mac you’ve got hops,’” McCormick said. “’And I was like: ‘Yeah I used to ball.’”
McCormick crashed into the wall after the catch and fell to the dirt but managed to hold on to the ball. Houston starter Cristian Javier smiled broadly and raised both arms in the air before tipping his cap after witnessing the grab.
“Definitely one of the best catches and I think one of the most exciting catches that I’ve seen,” Javier said in Spanish through a translator. “He committed there and made that jump and said he was going to catch that ball.”
McCormick said it reminded him of the game-saving catch he made in the ninth inning of Game 5 of last year’s World Series which Houston won 3-2.
“It was similar, against the wall,” he said. “But I thought the one tonight was harder. It was higher and I had to really extend and jump as high as I could.”
Baker raved about the catch, but did have one small gripe about the play.
“It was great but … just get the ball in sooner and we might of had a double play,” Baker said.
Justin Steele (6-1) hadn’t given up more than three runs in a game this season before the Astros jumped on him for four runs in the fourth inning for a 5-1 lead.
The Astros had four of their season-high six doubles in that inning en route to their third consecutive victory.
Steele allowed five hits and five runs with eight strikeouts in six innings.
“He’s been dealing with some flu-like symptoms,” manager David Ross said. “For him to go out there and have that performance — he did a really nice job for us. Just that one inning. Other than that he was pretty characteristically himself.”
Alex Bregman was hit on the foot by a pitch to start the fourth before scoring on a double by Alvarez to put Houston up 2-1. Kyle Tucker followed with a double that scored Alvarez.
There were two outs in the inning when an RBI double by Corey Julks pushed the lead to 4-1. The fourth double of the inning came next on a line drive by McCormick to make it 5-1.
Javier (4-1) allowed two hits and one run in six innings for his second straight win.
Chicago rookie Matt Mervis tied it ar 1 with his first major league home run in the second inning. Seiya Suzuki added a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning of the loss that extended Chicago’s skid to four games.
Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger was out of the lineup a night after injuring his left knee making an acrobatic catch in the seventh inning. Christopher Morel filled in at center field and went 1 for 4.
Mauricio Dubón led off with a ground-rule double and advanced to third on a fly out by Bregman. He put the Astros up 1-0 when he scored on a wild pitch by Steele.
Mervis tied it with his solo shot to right field with two outs in the second.
Right-hander Nick Burdi, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Iowa on Monday, made his first major league appearance since Aug. 3, 2020, when he came in for the Cubs in the seventh.
Burdi, whose career has been plagued by injuries, walked Martín Maldonado with one out before a double by Dubón. A sacrifice fly by Bregman scored Maldonado and an RBI single by Alvarez left Houston up 7-1.
Cubs: Ross said Bellinger is day to day but likely won’t return until Friday. “Talking to trainers and stuff, all good news today,” Ross said. “Just a little bit sore.”
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve, who has been out all season after fracturing his thumb in the World Baseball Classic, went 0 for 5 as he continued his rehabilitation with Double-A Corpus Christi Tuesday night after playing three games this weekend for Triple-A Sugar Land.
Chicago’s Drew Smyly (4-1, 3.05 ERA) opposes RHP J.P. France (1-0, 0.77) when the series wraps up Wednesday night.