Houston at Chicago

Chi. Cubs
W: G. Rusch (8-8) L: W. Rodriguez (10-9)
S: R. Dempster (30)
HR: HOU - C. Biggio (23)   CHC - None

Lee, Cubs play spoiler against NL wild card-leading Astros

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

CHICAGO -- Trailing by a run with the bases loaded and only one out, the Houston Astros were confident they'd pull this one out like they have so many other times this year.


Derrek Lee helped the Chicago Cubs play spoiler Friday, making an impressive defensive play to stall Houston's rally and preserve a 5-4 victory over the NL wild-card leaders. Lee also was 3-for-3 with an RBI at the plate.

Ryan Dempster got his 30th save and Nomar Garciaparra drove in a pair of runs for the Cubs, who handed the Astros their second loss in the last 10 games.

"We had a chance, but we didn't execute well and that's why we lost," Jose Vizcaino said. "We're still confident. We just have to come back tomorrow and learn from our mistakes."

Philadelphia rallied for an 11-10 victory over Cincinnati on Friday night, cutting the Astros' lead in the wild-card standings to one game. Houston remained four games in front of Florida, which lost 4-3 to Atlanta on Friday night.

"We weren't going to win the rest of them," said Lance Berkman, who was 2-for-5 with an RBI. "Nobody expected us to go 9-0 over the last nine games. It would have been nice, but these guys are getting paid to play, just like we are. They're a tough team. We certainly have our hands full. We just have to regroup and come back tomorrow."

But they'll have to do it without Roger Clemens. The Astros' ace was scratched from Saturday's start with a strained left hamstring that has been bothering him since Sept. 3. Ezequiel Astacio will start in his place.

"We just need a good performance," manager Phil Garner said. "Nine shutout innings would be nice."

So would some timely offense.

The Astros trailed 5-1 after four innings before they finally started clicking, thanks to Craig Biggio and a defensive gaffe by Corey Patterson.

Biggio, who hit a solo homer in the third inning, got things started with an RBI double in the fifth. Berkman hit an RBI single one out later and advanced to second on a single by Jason Lane.

Chris Burke then hit what looked like a playable pop to shallow center field. Patterson sprinted in to get the ball, but it hit his mitt and fell to the ground for an error, allowing Berkman to score to pull the Astros within 5-4.

The Astros loaded the bases with only one out in the eighth when Scott Williamson plunked pinch-hitter Jeff Bagwell on the forearm.

"We had a couple of chances. We couldn't get a run across the plate, but we got back in the ballgame," Garner said. "We did a good job fighting to get back into the ballgame. It looked like we were going to turn it and win it."

Roberto Novoa relieved Williamson, and Vizcaino hit a grounder to Lee. The first baseman grabbed the ball and rifled it home to catcher Michael Barrett to beat a sliding Charles Gipson.

Novoa then struck out Willy Taveras to end the threat. Dempster gave up a single to Biggio, but struck out Michael Lamb to end the game and get his 30th save in 32 chances.

"The bullpen did a great job. They deserve the win today for holding those guys down," said starter Glendon Rusch, who allowed four runs - three earned - and nine hits in five innings to even his record at 8-8.

Wandy Rodriguez (10-9) gave up five runs and eight hits in just four innings, his shortest start since going five innings Aug. 30.

"I wouldn't say he pitched poorly, I'd say that they did a good job of putting the ball in play," Garner said. "They are a good hitting team. They're going to get some hits on you."

They didn't waste any time doing it, either, tagging Rodriguez for three runs in the first inning. Todd Walker singled, then advanced to third on Lee's double off the wall in center. Walker strained his right knee between second and third, and was replaced by Jose Macias, who scored on Garciaparra's single.

Jeromy Burnitz followed with an RBI grounder, and Barrett hit a run-scoring double to make it 3-0. Rodriguez finally got out of the inning when Patterson struck out swinging, but the Cubs tacked on two more runs in the fourth.

"We swung the bats well today all the way through the lineup," said Lee, who improved his batting average to an NL-best .341. "We got hits at the right time."


  • Tests showed Walker has no ligament damage, and he's listed as day to day.
  • Dempster is the eighth Cubs closer with 30 or more saves in a season.
  • Berkman, who has 14 walks in the last 10 games, didn't draw any freebies Friday.
  • Rodriguez has lost both his starts at Wrigley Field this season.
Copyright 2017 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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Derrek Lee smacks one of his three hits and finishes 3-for-3. He also scores two runs.  (AP)
Derrek Lee smacks one of his three hits and finishes 3-for-3. He also scores two runs. (AP)

Players of the Game

D. Lee
AB 3
R 2
H 3
HR 0

C. Biggio
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1

Related Video

Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5000034 .290
Craig Biggio, 2B5232000 .264
Morgan Ensberg, 3B5010022 .278
Lance Berkman, 1B5121021 .299
Jason Lane, RF3020101 .265
    Charles Gipson, PR-RF0000000 .182
   a- Mike Lamb, PH1000011 .234
Chris Burke, LF3010101 .240
Adam Everett, SS3000005 .250
Raul Chavez, C3010010 .173
   b- Jeff Bagwell, PH0000000 .258
    Brad Ausmus, C0000000 .266
Wandy Rodriguez, P1000012 .158
   c- Luke Scott, PH1110000 .169
    Scott Strickland, P0000000 .000
   d- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000000 .284
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Mike Burns, P0000000 .000
   e- Jose Vizcaino, PH1000003 .246
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Gipson in the 9th
b-hit by pitch for Chavez in the 8th
c-singled for Rodriguez in the 5th
d-flied out for Strickland in the 6th
e-hit into fielder's choice for Burns in the 8th
2B - Craig Biggio (37, Rusch), Jason Lane (32, Williamson)
HR - Craig Biggio (23, Rusch)
SH - Adam Everett (8)
RBI - Craig Biggio 2 (64), Lance Berkman (76)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman (31)
SB - Raul Chavez (1, 2nd base off Rusch/Barrett)
Team LOB - 10
E - Morgan Ensberg (14, Misplayed grounder), Adam Everett (12, Wild throw)
Houston Astros
Wandy Rodriguez (L,10-9) 4855240 5.62
Scott Strickland 1100000 4.91
Russ Springer 1100000 4.89
Mike Burns 1000000 5.10
Mike Gallo 1000000 2.37
IBB - Murton by Wandy Rodriguez
WP - Wandy Rodriguez (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 92-56, Scott Strickland 14-9, Russ Springer 18-9, Mike Burns 9-5, Mike Gallo 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 7-2, Scott Strickland 2-1, Mike Gallo 3-0
Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 23, Scott Strickland 4, Russ Springer 4, Mike Burns 3, Mike Gallo 3
Chicago Cubs
Neifi Perez, SS5000010 .278
Todd Walker, 2B1010000 .305
    Jose Macias, PR-2B3220000 .278
Derrek Lee, 1B3231100 .341
Nomar Garciaparra, 3B4022004 .268
Jeromy Burnitz, RF4101014 .261
Michael Barrett, C4011000 .277
Matt Murton, LF3000100 .325
Corey Patterson, CF4010012 .221
Glendon Rusch, P2000010 .132
   a- Geovany Soto, PH1000001 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Scott Williamson, P0000000 .000
    Roberto Novoa, P0000000 .000
   b- Scott McClain, PH1000000 .154
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .071
a-lined out for Rusch in the 5th
b-grounded out for Novoa in the 8th
2B - Derrek Lee 2 (49, Rodriguez, Rodriguez), Michael Barrett (31, Rodriguez)
RBI - Derrek Lee (104), Nomar Garciaparra 2 (25), Jeromy Burnitz (85), Michael Barrett (58)
2-OUT RBI - Derrek Lee (34), Nomar Garciaparra (5), Michael Barrett (22)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Macias-Perez-Lee
E - Corey Patterson (5, Misplayed battedd ball)
Chicago Cubs
Glendon Rusch (W,8-8) 5943131 4.62
Michael Wuertz (H,16) 2000040 4.02
Scott Williamson (H,3) 0.1100100 6.08
Roberto Novoa (H,14) 0.2000010 4.22
Ryan Dempster (S,30) 1100020 3.24
HBP - Bagwell (by Scott Williamson)
WP - Scott Williamson (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Glendon Rusch 105-69, Michael Wuertz 27-17, Scott Williamson 14-6, Roberto Novoa 9-7, Ryan Dempster 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Glendon Rusch 3-9, Michael Wuertz 1-1, Scott Williamson 1-0, Roberto Novoa 1-0, Ryan Dempster 1-0
Batters Faced - Glendon Rusch 25, Michael Wuertz 6, Scott Williamson 4, Roberto Novoa 2, Ryan Dempster 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38622
Game Time - 2:51
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Larry Poncino, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Ron Kulpa