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Maddux bests Pettitte as Cubs pick up a game

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Facing Greg Maddux, another reliable outing wasn't good enough for Andy Pettitte.

Maddux outdueled Pettitte for seven innings, and Aramis Ramirez homered and doubled twice to help the Chicago Cubs snap a six-game road losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Maddux (10-9) yielded just three hits -- his fewest since May 10 -- and shut down the Astros after Houston scored 12 runs on 16 hits the previous night.

Pettitte (10-9) pitched about as well as he did in his previous eight outings, when he went 6-1. But against Maddux, the few mistakes Pettitte made -- particularly three pitches to Ramirez -- proved costly.

Not that Maddux said he had it any easier.

"When you face somebody as good as him you really got to try harder," said Maddux, who allowed his fewest runs since pitching eight scoreless innings July 10. "I think mentally you burn out quicker than you normally do."

Kerry Wood pitched a perfect eighth for his sixth scoreless relief appearance, and Ryan Dempster worked the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances.

With the win, the Cubs pulled within 6½ games of Houston in the NL wild-card race.

Ramirez was 3-for-4 with two RBI, his last a high-arching solo homer to left in sixth. It was the 30th home run of the season for Ramirez, who continued to feast on left-handers. Ramirez is hitting .353 against left-handers, with 11 doubles and nine homers.

"I couldn't have thrown him three worse pitches," Pettitte said. "All three were just terrible. He must have thought I was Santa Claus after throwing those pitches. It was just sickening, especially the homer."

It was just the second loss since June for Pettitte, who allowed eight hits and tied his season high with eight strikeouts.

After Chad Qualls relieved Pettitte in the eighth, the Cubs tacked on another run when Nomar Garciaparra scored from third on Corey Patterson's bloop single.

The Astros started the night where they left off Monday. Rookie Willy Taveras dropped a triple into deep right field on Maddux's first pitch, then scored one batter later when Craig Biggio grounded to shortstop.

But the four-time Cy Young winner quickly settled down.

Adam Everett doubled in the second, and Taveras beat out a short chopper in the third. Maddux then walked Lance Berkman two batter later, but it would be the last base runner the 39-year-old pitcher allowed.

"He didn't look as dominant as I've seen him in the past," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "He didn't use a lot of breaking balls or off-speed stuff, he just used his fastball. But we didn't strike it."

For Wood, the former starter continued his smooth transition to the bullpen. Wood has pitched seven scoreless innings in his six relief appearances, allowing just one hit and striking out 12.

Wood went on the disabled list on July 21 with shoulder inflammation and has been used as a reliever since his return. Manager Dusty Baker said Wood will stay in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

Wood has had success despite mostly eliminating his changeup and curveball from his options as a reliever. He said he instead relies on fastballs and sliders now.

"The mental part is easy," Wood said of his new role. "Just go in and get guys out."

Houston was shut out in consecutive games before opening the series Monday night with a 12-4 victory over the Cubs.

Notes

  • The Cubs have homered in their last eight games.
  • With the victory, Maddux has won at least 10 games for 18 consecutive seasons.
  • The Astros took issue with umpire's Larry Vanover's strike zone throughout the game. Catcher Brad Ausmus argued a called third strike in the second inning and Morgan Ensberg did the same in the sixth. Garner came onto the field both times.
  • Houston fell to 0-51 when trailing after eight innings.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Greg Maddux yields a run on three hits and two walks over seven innings, while striking out five.  (AP)
Greg Maddux yields a run on three hits and two walks over seven innings, while striking out five. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
Chicago

G. Maddux
IP 7.0
H 3
ER 1
BB 2
K 5
 
Chicago Cubs
Matt Lawton, RF-LF5000033 .269
Neifi Perez, 2B5010010 .268
Derrek Lee, 1B4110100 .347
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4232002 .306
Nomar Garciaparra, SS3110101 .236
Matt Murton, LF3010023 .339
   a- Jeromy Burnitz, PH-RF1000000 .257
Corey Patterson, CF4011023 .236
Henry Blanco, C3000113 .236
Greg Maddux, P3011010 .226
   b- Jose Macias, PH1000002 .294
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .111
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .077
Totals3649431017 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Murton in the 8th
b-lined out for Maddux in the 8th
Batting
2B - Aramis Ramirez 2 (30, Pettitte, Pettitte)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (30, Pettitte)
RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (88), Corey Patterson (28), Greg Maddux (5)
2-OUT RBI - Greg Maddux (1)
SB - Derrek Lee (13, 2nd base off Pettitte/Ausmus), Corey Patterson (14, 2nd base off Qualls/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Ramirez-Perez-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Greg Maddux (W,10-9) 7311250 4.40
Kerry Wood (H,3) 1000020 4.13
Ryan Dempster (S,17) 1100000 4.02
Pitches-Strikes - Greg Maddux 70-49, Kerry Wood 9-7, Ryan Dempster 10-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Greg Maddux 10-5, Ryan Dempster 1-1
Batters Faced - Greg Maddux 25, Kerry Wood 3, Ryan Dempster 3
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF4120010 .303
Craig Biggio, 2B4001001 .273
Lance Berkman, 1B2010210 .292
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4000014 .297
Jason Lane, RF3000001 .262
Orlando Palmeiro, LF3000010 .331
Adam Everett, SS3010010 .243
Brad Ausmus, C3000010 .243
Andy Pettitte, P2000000 .098
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   a- Jose Vizcaino, PH1000010 .227
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
Totals29141276 
a-struck out for Qualls in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adam Everett (24, Maddux)
3B - Willy Taveras (4, Maddux)
RBI - Craig Biggio (50)
SB - Willy Taveras (28, 2nd base off Maddux/Blanco)
CS - Adam Everett (6, 3rd base by Maddux/Blanco)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Everett
E - Craig Biggio (12, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte (L,10-9) 7833281 2.67
Chad Qualls 1110110 3.54
Russ Springer 1000010 5.62
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 107-69, Chad Qualls 18-10, Russ Springer 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 8-5, Chad Qualls 1-1
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 31, Chad Qualls 5, Russ Springer 3
Game Information
Attendance - 31963
Game Time - 2:18
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Randy Marsh, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Sam Holbrook