In addition to allowing a run and seven hits in seven-plus innings, he chipped in offensively. Backe had a single, his first major-league stolen base, a sacrifice and scored a run as the Astros ended the drought with a 5-1 victory.
"I used to be a position player and that's kind of my mentality," said Backe, a converted outfielder. "I love all aspects of the game and I want to do well in all of them."
The Astros had to just love winning, capturing their third road victory in 24 tries this season.
Houston had managed just 59 runs on the road before Wednesday night, so scoring five -- three in the eighth inning -- was almost as surprising as it was welcome.
"We got a lot of guys due for a win. Our guys have pitched well and they deserve a lot more. It sure feels good to look up at the board and see five runs," Houston manager Phil Garner said.
Morgan Ensberg's ninth homer and sixth in his last 16 games broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth, and the Astros sealed the long-awaited victory by knocking out Greg Maddux with the three-run eighth.
"We've done a poor job of not only scoring runs, but holding those leads. So one run in my eyes, although it helps ease off a little of the pressure, I still wasn't so relaxed as I was in the ninth with a four-run lead," Ensberg said.
"It's not fun when you win one game and you're so incredibly giddy by the fact that you've won one game."
Backe (4-3) picked up his first win in six road starts and helped the Astros score first in the third when he singled off Maddux with two outs before stealing second.
"He's a little slow to the plate and I've got a little bit of speed," Backe said.
"I didn't like that," Maddux said of giving up a hit and stolen base to the opposing pitcher.
After Backe's steal, Orlando Palmeiro delivered an RBI single.
Maddux (2-3) allowed five runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings, and Chicago hasn't given him a lot of support.
The Cubs have scored 37 runs in Maddux's 10 starts and only 28 while he was in the game.
"It's hard to believe his record is 2-3. I'm frustrated for him," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said.
And with just two wins in the first two months, Maddux's major league-record streak of 17 consecutive seasons with at least 15 victories could be in jeopardy.
"I'll just pitch and see what happens," Maddux said. "I'll get ready for my next start and go from there."
Brad Ausmus started the eighth with a single and Backe sacrificed him to second. A wild pitch by Maddux moved him to third before Todd Self came through with a two-out RBI single to make it 3-1.
Craig Biggio then beat out an infield hit before Lance Berkman -- batting .179 entering the game -- hit a two-out single off Michael Wuertz to make it 4-1. Reliever Will Ohman's wild pitch allowed Houston's third run of the inning to score.
"We went to the bullpen and things went awry from there," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
The Cubs scored their run in the third when Barrett singled, Maddux sacrificed, Jerry Hairston walked and Neifi Perez hit an RBI single.
Chicago had first and third and one out in the sixth on Perez's double and an infield hit by Derrek Lee, but Backe induced Jeromy Burnitz to pop out and Aramis Ramirez to line out to center.
The game took only 2 hours, 21 minutes to play. ... Houston turned three double plays. ... The Cubs activated Todd Walker off the disabled list and he went 0-for-3. He was on the DL since mid-April with a left knee sprain. LHP Mike Remlinger, who fractured his finger when it was pinched between two chairs in the clubhouse, was put on the DL. ... Houston's Roger Clemens was sore Wednesday after a tight groin forced him out after five innings Tuesday night. Garner said he's still expecting Clemens to make his next start Monday. ... One of Maddux's wins this season came against the Astros on April 29 in Houston. ... Ramirez is in a 2-for-22 slump.