CHICAGO (AP) - Rodrigo Lopez made his Cubs debut on the wrong day.
Jeff Keppinger and J.R. Towles homered and the Houston Astros rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 12-7 on Monday afternoon.
Clint Barmes and Hunter Pence also added back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to help the Astros end a three-game losing streak.
The conditions were not exactly in Lopez's favor, who is a fly ball pitcher. Game time temperature was 88 degree with the wind blowing out at 11 mph.
``Look, I'm not here to make excuses or anything like that, but it is a tough place to pitch under these conditions,' Cubs manger Mike Quade said. ``Maybe ran out of gas, got a few balls up in the fifth. It's one thing if you're a fly ball pitcher and you start to tire in these conditions, you're going to struggle. I thought he was fine and he will be better in the next start.'
On Monday, he allowed six runs on 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings.
With Casey Coleman ineffective as a replacement starter, Chicago acquired Lopez from Atlanta on Thursday for a minor leaguer and were initially expected to use him as a reliever.
Following Coleman's demotion this weekend, Lopez was made a starter.
After blowing two leads against the Diamondbacks on Friday and Sunday, the Astros' bullpen only allowed one run over five innings. Astros reliever Sergio Escalona (1-0) pitched one scoreless inning.
``You walk out there with the heat and the wind blowing out, you knew it might be a long one. That makes it all the more impressive, what our bullpen was able to do to keep us in the game,' Astros manager Brad Mills said.
Carlos Pena homered run for the Cubs, who committed three errors.
Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro, who committed three errors in an inning earlier this season, made another one in the seventh that allowed a run to score. It was his 10th error of the season.
``These things happen. We keep trying to eliminate them and get better. The inexperience of youth,' Quade said.
Trailing 6-3 in the fifth, Michael Bourn tripled off Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez. Then Barmes and Pence followed with back-to-back shots to left to tie the game at six. It was the first time the Astros hit back-to-back home runs this season.
``I was battling with the heat today,' Lopez said. ``The last three days were pretty cold and today I came out with long sleeves, I don't know 83 degrees and it feels like a hundred. I was battling the whole game, but they gave me enough time to recover myself. I didn't feel tired I just felt those guys just made an adjustment on my pitches and they got the long ball off of me.'
Towles gave the Astros the lead with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning off Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija (3-1).
``Barmes was the big hit to wake us up. They were swinging the bats. We were still swinging the bats, but once he put us within one, we never stopped from there. That's baseball,' Pence said. ``Solid day for offense. We had good at_bats, ran the bases pretty well. It's a warm day with the wind blowing out at Wrigley, if you put the ball in a hole there, you have a good chance to find a hit.'
Keppinger finished the day with three hits and four RBIs.
The Cubs have committed three or more errors eight times this season.
Astros starter Aneury Rodriguez only lasted four innings. He allowed six runs, four earned on seven hits.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano left the game after straining his left quadriceps after trying to beat out a grounder in the first inning.
A few feet from first base, Soriano pulled up holding his left thigh. After limping off the field, Soriano was replaced in left field by Blake DeWitt in the second inning. Soriano will have an MRI.
NOTES: Cubs OF Tony Campana stole four bases for the Cubs for the first time since Juan Pierre did it June 15, 2006 for the Cubs against Houston. ... Cubs C Geovany Soto (groin) was back in the lineup after being activated from the disabled list on Sunday. ... The Cubs hope to have RHP Matt Garza back for Sunday's start at St. Louis. ...
The Associated Press News Service
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