HOUSTON — Mike Fiers did not have his best stuff Sunday night, and the Chicago Cubs jumped on him quickly.
Jorge Soler and Addison Russell homered to lead Chicago to a 9-5 win over the Houston Astros, moving the Cubs closer to clinching the NL Central.
Soler hit a solo home run as part of Chicago’s four-run third, and Russell hit a two-run shot — his 20th of the season — in the fourth as the Cubs built a 9-0 lead.
“I thought we played pretty well, I just didn’t hold up my end of the bargain and end up losing because of it,” Fiers said. “Big games like this you’ve got to lock it in and play a lot better than I did. Put us in a hole pretty quick and it was tough to get out of.”
Fiers (10-7) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings as Houston fell 9 1/2 games behind Texas in the AL West and 3 1/2 back of Toronto and Baltimore in the wild-card race.
“Honestly I don’t know what it was,” Fiers said. “Made some good pitches, made some bad pitches. They hit both and ended up getting ahead pretty early.”
The right-hander had won two straight and allowed three runs or fewer in each of his previous four starts.
“His command wasn’t really there,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “It seemed like he was losing a lot of breaking balls up into the arm side, which is a little bit of a delivery issue. So there was a lot of different things that just weren’t going his way. Just wasn’t his night. I thought he did the best he could but it was an off night for him.”
Chicago extended its lead in the NL Central to 16 games over St. Louis.
Jake Arrieta (17-6) allowed three runs on four hits with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. His 17 wins lead the NL, and his 11 road wins leads the majors.
Arrieta cruised through the first five innings, allowing a solo home run to Jose Altuve in the fourth to go with a walk and single but ran into trouble in the sixth.
Alex Bregman hit an RBI double and came around to score on Arrieta’s wild pitch to cut the lead to 9-3 in the sixth. The Astros then loaded the bases with one out, but Justin Grimm induced pop-ups by Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus to end the threat.
“Disappointing obviously to fall that far behind,” Hinch said. “We had a chance in the sixth, got a couple runs, could have had a bigger inning.”
Kris Bryant had an RBI double in the first, and David Ross had a sacrifice fly before Javier Baez scored on a wild pitch by Mike Fiers in the second.
Baez added an RBI single, and Albert Almora hit a two-run single as part of the third.
“We came out ready to play,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “We always do, but there was a little bit of juice about the whole game. Everybody was really raring to go and I thought we did a wonderful job of getting on top like we did.”
Yulieski Gurriel and Gattis hit back-to-back solo home runs in the ninth as the Astros lost for the fourth time in five games.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa was back in the lineup after missing four games with inflammation in his left shoulder. Correa singled in the second and was replaced by pinch hitter A.J. Reed in the fourth. Hinch said Correa was fine. “I wasn’t going to let him reaggravate it with the score 9-0 going into that inning,” Hinch said.
Almora ended the fifth with a diving catch coming in on Marwin Gonzalez’s falling pop fly. Jake Marisnick then robbed Almora of a hit in the eighth, coming in and making a diving grab on Almora’s pop fly.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (14-7) starts the first game of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. Hendricks leads the majors with a 2.07 ERA. He has allowed three runs or fewer in 19 straight starts.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (12-11) starts the first of a three-game series against Texas on Monday. Fister will look to bounce back after allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start at Cleveland on Wednesday.