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Chicago Cubs: Roles reversed as Aroldis Chapman shuts door for Yanks

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May 5, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) reacts after giving up a three-run home run to New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) reacts after giving up a three-run home run to New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Leading through 26 outs, the Chicago Cubs’ Hector Rondon served up a three-run homer in the ninth to Brett Gardner.

The Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees began a three-game series Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks had a tall task ahead of him, looking to quiet the highest-scoring club in the American League.

Though ‘The Professor’ started off shaky, allowing a double by Aaron Hicks and hitting Gary Sanchez, fresh off the DL. Hendricks got out of the jam when Starlin Castro, making his return to Wrigley Field, lined out to end the first.

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Though he flirted with potential disaster early, he kept the Yankees’ bats at bay through 5 1/3 innings. He left the game with a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, allowing six hits, walking two.

Kris Bryant got the scoring started with his sixth home run of the season in the first. Kyle Schwarber added an insurance tally with his fifth homer in the sixth inning.

Jason Heyward made two outstanding catches and twice doubled a runner off. The second of which occurred when Castro attempted to score and was tagged out by Wilson Contreras. The Cubs backstop took an elbow to the head by Castro during the play, but stayed in the game.

Bullpen falters without Davis available

The Cubs bullpen, already short to start the day, got healthy contributions by Brian Duensing (1 2/3 innings, two Ks) and Pedro Strop (1 IP, two Ks), and it came down to Hector Rondon in the ninth to nail down the save.

That’s where that bend but don’t break mantra the Cubs pitching flirted with all day finally caught up with them.

With two on, two outs and Brett Gardner, down to his final strike, tagged Rondon with a three-run home run to right field. Despite trailing all afternoon, the Yankees escaped with a 3-2 win.

Next: Cubs fans give Castro a warm welcome in Wrigley return

What’s next

Saturday night will feature the second game of the series. It will be Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.15 ERA) going for the Yankees and Brett Anderson (2-1, 6.23 ERA) going for the Cubs. First pitch is at 6:15 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.

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