Gardner’s 3-Run, 2-Out Homer In 9th Lifts Yankees Past Cubs, 3-2

CHICAGO (AP) — Brett Gardner lined a slider from Hector Rondon into the right-field bleachers with two outs in the ninth inning for a three-run homer that lifted the New York Yankees over the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in a dramatic series opener Friday.

Home runs by Kris Bryant in the first and Kyle Schwarber in the sixth off Michael Pineda staked the Cubs to a 2-0 lead on a 45-degree afternoon with the wind blowing in.

Chase Headley singled with one out in the ninth off Rondon (0-1), pitching after Wade Davis appeared in the previous three games. Jacoby Ellsbury, in his first appearance since injuring an elbow Monday, pinch hit with two outs and walked after a 2-1 pitch at the knees was called a ball by umpire Ryan Blakney.

Gardner fouled off a pair of 1-2 fastballs, took a ball and on his seventh pitch of the at-bat — the 29th to Gardner in the game — he hit his fifth home run of the season, all in the last six games.

Gardner and Rondon were among the few players wearing short-sleeve undershirts on an afternoon some wore ski caps during batting practice, and the contrast could not have been greater. Gardner pumped his left arm running the bases, and Rondon put both hands on his head.

Aroldis Chapman, who received his World Series ring from the Cubs before the game, had to pitch out of trouble in the bottom half. Addison Russell reached second when Headley allowed his leadoff grounder to bounce past him and down the left-field line for an error.

Chapman froze Jason Heyward with a breaking ball for a called third strike, retired Willson Contreras on a grounder to Headley, then struck out Javier Baez on a 100 mph fastball for his seventh save in as many chances.

Jonathan Holder (1-0) pitched a one-hit eighth for his first major league victory, helping combine on a four-hitter.

New York, 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position before Gardner’s homer, has won twice when trailing after eight innings, one shy of its total in 2016.

Starlin Castro, traded from the Cubs to the Yankees in December 2015, received a warm ovation from fans and had two hits in his return to Wrigley Field. He was thrown out at the plate by Heyward to end the sixth on Headley’s fly to right. Contreras

Castro got thrown out by Heyward trying to score on Headley’s line drive to right for a double play that ended the sixth. Contreras hung onto the ball despite Castro’s right shoulder knocking off his mark in collision that shook up the catcher.

The interleague series also marked the return to Chicago of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who made his only All-Star appearance with the Cubs in 2000 and on Thursday spoke with the baseball team at Northwestern, his alma mater.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendicks gave up six hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 4.18 to 3.51. He was helped by his defense in the second when, with the infield in, second baseman Ben Zobrist threw out Aaron Judge at the plate trying to score on Headley’s grounder.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: C Gary Sanchez went 0 for 4 and got hit by a pitch in his return from the disabled list. He had been sidelined since April 8 because of a strained right biceps. C Kyle Higashioka was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.15 ERA) is to make his fifth major league start Saturday.

Cubs: LHP Brett Anderson (2-1, 6.23) looks to bounce back after getting knocked out early by Philadelphia on Monday. He gave up seven runs in just 1 1/3 innings and saw his ERA leap from 3.54 to 6.23.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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