HOUSTON (AP) — Alex Bregman still isn’t where he wants to be at the plate.
But his performance Monday night was certainly a step in the right direction.
Bregman hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning to power the Houston Astros to a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“It starts with one,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, but you’ve got to start with one and that was nice tonight.”
Houston led 4-0 after the first inning, but Christopher Morel slugged a three-run homer as the Cubs tied it by scoring four in the fourth.
It was still knotted at 4-4 when Mauricio Dubón singled with two outs in the seventh. Bregman then launched his homer off Michael Fulmer (0-3) to left field.
The third baseman is hitting .212 this season and entered Monday’s game batting just .170 this month.
“It felt good,” Bregman said. “I’m a believer in over the course of 162 (games) everything will play out the way it’s supposed to.”
Yordan Alvarez walked after Bregman’s homer before Cody Bellinger injured his left knee when he robbed Kyle Tucker of extra bases with an acrobatic catch to end the inning.
Bellinger leaped and crashed into the padded wall just in front of the Houston bullpen to make the grab. The 2019 National League MVP appeared to turn his left ankle when he landed and crumpled to the ground.
Right fielder Seiya Suzuki immediately motioned for help and a trainer came to check on Bellinger. After a couple of minutes, he slowly got to his feet and walked gingerly off the field. He was replaced in the lineup by Miles Mastrobuoni.
Cubs manager David Ross said he doesn’t believe Bellinger’s injury is serious.
“Doc checked him out — nothing major,” Ross said. “We’ll see how he wakes up in the morning. He’s icing it now … but all the checks the doc did, ligaments and things seem to be OK.”
Dubón had three hits, José Abreu drove in two runs with a double and Alvarez singled to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games for the Astros, who have won five of six.
Dubón continues to fill in nicely for injured second baseman Jose Altuve. During a current six-game hitting streak he is batting .391 with a double, two RBIs and four runs scored.
“He’s doing his thing,” Baker said. “He’s getting on base like he’s supposed to in that spot and in Jose’s absence, he’s making the most of his opportunities.”
Houston starter Framber Valdez allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings. He couldn’t build on his previous start, in which he gave up three hits and one run while striking out 12 in eight innings at the Los Angeles Angels.
Rafael Montero (1-3) pitched a scoreless seventh and Héctor Neris got his second save by striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
Jameson Taillon yielded seven hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings in his third start since returning from a left groin strain.
Dubón hit a leadoff single before a one-out single by Alvarez. There were two outs when Abreu doubled to left to make it 2-0. Jeremy Peña then smacked a single to left to send Abreu home.
The Astros made it 4-0 when Chas McCormick doubled to left to score Peña.
Bellinger got things going for Chicago in the fourth with a single before a single by Trey Mancini with one out sent him to third. Bellinger scored on a sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes.
Nick Madrigal singled before Morel’s homer, which bounced off the left field wall and tied it at 4-all.
Dubón and Bregman hit consecutive singles to start Houston’s fifth. But Alvarez grounded into a double play that left Dubón out at home before Tucker was retired on a flyball to end the inning.
Cubs: RHP Brad Boxberger was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Sunday, with a right forearm strain. RHP Jeremiah Estrada was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot on the roster. … RHP Adrian Sampson was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Astros: Altuve, who has been out all season after fracturing his right thumb in the World Baseball Classic, will continue his rehabilitation by joining Double-A Corpus Christi Tuesday. Altuve went 1 for 13 in three games this weekend for Triple-A Sugar Land. Baker said Altuve was feeling good but had yet to get his timing back.
Rapper Travis Scott took batting practice and visited with the team before the game. Scott, who is from suburban Houston, wore one of Houston’s Space City jerseys with his nickname “La Flame” on the back.
New Houston Texans coach DeMeco Ryans threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Ryans, a former linebacker for Houston, was hired to replace Lovie Smith in January.
Chicago’s Justin Steele (6-0, 1.82 ERA) looks to improve to 7-0 when he starts against Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.47) on Tuesday night.