HOUSTON — With a postseason berth all but guaranteed
, Astros manager A.J. Hinch has begun the process of mapping out the number of starts his frontline starters will make over the final two weeks of the season in deference to their workload and potential first-round matchups.Right-hander Gerrit Cole, the scheduled starter for Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, will instead pitch the opener of the weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He is 12 2/3 innings shy of his third 200-inning season and has made 30 starts for the third time. His 260 strikeouts are a career high by a wide margin, 58 more than he had in 2015 with Pittsburgh.“He’s really been worked pretty hard,” Hinch said of Cole. “He’s been very consistent in his work. We have the opportunity to push him back a couple days; we know he’s only going to get two starts.”Article continues below ...Hinch will use care to not overextend right-handers Justin Verlander (202 innings) and Charlie Morton, who is nine innings shy of eclipsing the career-high 171 2/3 innings he logged during his age-27 season with the Pirates in 2011. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel has worked 191 2/3 innings for the Astros (94-56). Keuchel reached 200 innings in back-to-back seasons in 2014-15.“We are getting to that point where we’re trying to line up two more starts (for each pitcher), where they’re going to be, and how much rest they’re going to have in between,” Hinch said.Rookie right-hander Josh James (0-0, 4.22 ERA) will make his second career start and fourth appearance. He made his big-league debut on Sept. 1 against the Angels, working five innings while allowing three runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts. James followed with two relief appearances during a six-game road trip
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, combining to work 5 2/3 innings while allowing two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts against Boston and Detroit.Right-hander Mike Leake (10-9, 3.99 ERA) will start on Tuesday as the Mariners (83-67) try to clinch the season series. It will mark his 30th start on the season, the seventh consecutive season that Leake has reached that benchmark. Leake, coming off his staff-best 18th quality start, will make his 16th career appearance (14th start) against the Astros. He is 6-6 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against Houston, including 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA over three starts this season.Mariners ace left-hander James Paxton traveled with the club to Houston, fully recovered from a bout with pneumonia that had sidelined him since his previous start on Sept. 7 against the New York Yankees. With the Mariners clinging to faint postseason hopes, Paxton is incentivized to return to the mound, but he cannot do so until he has reclaimed full strength.“It’s really going to be a play-it-by-ear thing,” Paxton said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get energy back. I’d have to be able to throw, throw a bullpen
, and still have energy left to go pitch a game. We’re going to try and build up that energy as best we can and try to get me back out there.” PHOENIX (AP) — Two nights in a row, Anthony Rizzo has made a major impact on Chicago Cubs wins with efforts that don’t stand out in the boxscore.Rizzo beat out a potential double play by hustling to first base Monday, and teammate Javier Baez followed with a two-run homer. The next night, Rizzo worked a 17-pitch at-bat before lining out, and Baez followed with another two-run shot.That helped the Cubs cruise to a 9-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday for their fifth win in six games. Chicago increased its lead in the NL Central to 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which lost at home to last-place Cincinnati.“I saw it all,” Rizzo said. “They were just borderline pitches. You would love for that ball to sneak through, but when you wear pitchers out like that, it’s something that the next guy and the next guy can have success.”Daniel Murphy also hit a two-run homer as the Cubs jumped out to a big early lead. Mike Montgomery (5-5) allowed a run and four hits with a season-high eight strikeouts in six innings for his first win since Aug. 7.“Changeup was really working,” Montgomery said. “Obviously, this rotation is working well so I kind of wanted to jump in line and be a guy that goes out there and gives us as many innings as he can.”The slumping Diamondbacks dropped six games behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West and six back of St. Louis for the second wild card. They have lost four in a row and nine of 11.The Cubs built a 5-0 lead after their first two turns at bat.In the first inning
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, Baez drove a 2-0 pitch from Matt Andriese onto the pool deck in right-center. Baez’s 33rd home run gave him 107 RBIs this season.Ian Happ knocked in Jason Heyward with a second-inning double before Murphy, who scored three times, hit his 11th home run of the season.Rizzo added a two-run single in a four-run fifth.“Overall, we did work some good at-bats,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I thought the approach was good and we hit some balls really well.”Ketel Marte homered in the second for Arizona, his 12th. But the Diamondbacks’ season that got off to a great start appears on the verge of ending with no return to the postseason.“We still have two feet in this race and I believe something good can come out of it,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Whether it is tomorrow or next year, I believe we are learning some valuable lessons.”Andriese (3-6) lasted two innings and was charged with five runs on five hits in a bullpen game for Arizona. Four other pitchers appeared.“Not the way I wanted my first start with the Diamondbacks,” Andriese said. “That Rizzo at-bat kind of made me work hard and kind of put me behind the 8-ball.”HEY, IT’S HEYWARDHeyward started for the first time since being activated from the disabled list on Sunday. He came in as a defensive replacement in right field in the ninth inning on Monday. He had been out since Aug. 31 with a hamstring injury.Heyward was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.“Jason looked really good at the plate,” Maddon said. “First ball in the gap and second one was really well struck up the middle.”SPRING TRAINING FEELThe Diamondbacks
, down 9-1 after five innings, made six lineup changes before the sixth, including replacing star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Cubs also took out several regulars, and before the night ended, Happ had played all three outfield positions.TRAINER’S ROOMCubs: A day after expressing hope that closer Brandon Morrow could soon be back from a lingering elbow injury, the Cubs decided to shut him down for the rest of the season. That means their two relievers with the most saves this season, Morrow and Pedro Strop, are out. Strop hopes to possibly be ready for the postseason. … Chicago catcher Willson Contreras took a foul ball to his groin area in the eighth inning and was doubled over in pain behind home plate, but stayed in the game.Diamondbacks: Arizona reliever T.J. McFarland was shut down for the rest of the season with an elbow issue. McFarland was 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA in 47 games and 72 innings.UP NEXTCubs: LHP Cole Hamels tries to improve to 5-0 with Chicago when he pitches Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. It will be his 10th start in a Cubs uniform since he was traded by Texas.Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (5-2) is Wednesday’s scheduled starter. Six of his last eight appearances have ended in no-decisions, and the other two are wins.