CHICAGO (AP) — Starlin Castro got the ball back from his long drive in the fourth inning.
They used to keep his home-run balls in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. Not so much anymore.
Castro drove in three runs against his former team, Aaron Hicks tied a career-high with four hits and the New York Yankees pounded Brett Anderson and the Chicago Cubs, 11-6, on Saturday night.
“To come back here and hit a homer is pretty fun,” Castro said. “It feels really good to come in here and compete against my ex-team.”
Hicks connected for a three-run homer in the eighth inning as the AL East leaders (19-9) earned their fourth straight win, extending their surprising start. Jordan Montgomery (2-1) pitched into the seventh for his first road win in his fifth major league start.
“As guys come in, they’re doing the job,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We don’t ever know where the offense is going to come, but you feel it’ll come from more than just one spot in the order.”
Castro, a three-time All-Star with the Cubs before he was traded to the Yankees in December 2015, hit an RBI double in New York’s five-run first. He drove a 3-1 pitch from reliever Felix Pena deep into the bleachers in left for a two-run shot in the fourth, giving the Yankees an 8-0 lead.
As per the custom on visiting home runs at the Friendly Confines, a fan threw the ball back on the field.
“I spent really good times in Chicago, now I feel good,” Castro said. “I feel good here.”
Castro finished with three hits in his fifth straight multihit game, running his AL-best batting average to .381. Hicks has 10 hits in his last 20 at-bats.
Anderson (2-2) allowed hits to six of his first seven batters before he was pulled with one out in the first with lower back tightness. He also committed a throwing error that brought in a run.
There were a few boos from the crowd of 40,735 as Anderson walked off the mound with a trainer. The left-hander has recorded just five outs over his last two starts, allowing 12 runs and 13 hits.
“The last two starts here at home have been embarrassing from my perspective,” he said.
Manager Joe Maddon said Anderson is likely headed for the disabled list. He mentioned Eddie Butler at Triple-A Iowa and Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery as possible candidates for Anderson’s spot in the rotation.
The inconsistent performance by Chicago’s starting pitchers led to a costly move right before the game, with the World Series champions designating reserve outfielder Matt Szczur for assignment to make room for another reliever.
Rob Zastryzny, who was promoted from Triple-A Iowa, pitched four innings, but Szczur likely is headed for a new team. He was drafted by the Cubs in 2010 and made his major league debut in 2014.
“Putting the pieces together, having to move Szczur out of here today because this may occur, that was the tough part of the day,” Maddon said. “That’s the part that lingers with you organizationally, as a manager, as a GM, as a president, that’s the part that lingers.
“It’s a lost ballgame, you throw it away, but when you have to lose a guy like Matty, that’s the most difficult part of today.”
The move underscored Maddon’s concern about the stress on his bullpen. He also had backup catcher Miguel Montero work the ninth in his first pitching appearance since July 3 and the second of his career.
Montero threw one near the head of Chris Carter, patting his chest to acknowledge his mistake as he took a few steps toward the plate. Montero walked two and the Yankees had runners on second and third when Rob Refsnyder flied out to end the scoreless inning, drawing a big cheer from what was left of the crowd.
“Put a zero on the board. An ugly one, but a zero,” a grinning Montero said.
NICE JOB, ROOK
The 6-foot-6 Montgomery walked four for the second straight start, but allowed just three runs and three hits in a career-high 6 2/3 innings.
“My changeup was the best it’s been,” he said. “It was good to have it back the way it’s been most of my life. I threw it 3-2 counts, 2-0 counts, 1-2 counts. Basically any count, I threw it. It was good.”
Yankees: OF Jacoby Ellsbury could return to the lineup for the series finale Sunday night. He bruised a nerve in his left elbow on Monday. “The plan is to shoot for tomorrow,” Ellsbury said. “It’s feeling a lot better, even from yesterday to today.” Ellsbury walked as a pinch hitter and scored in the ninth inning of Friday’s 3-2 win over the Cubs.
Cubs: OF Jason Heyward was out of the starting lineup with a sore knuckle on his right hand from a dive in the series opener.
Jon Lester (1-1, 3.67 ERA) makes his 30th start against the Yankees in the series finale. The left-hander, who began his career with Boston, is 13-6 with a 3.78 ERA against New York. Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA) gets the ball for the Yankees after he was charged with five runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 7-1 loss to Toronto on Monday.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.