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Rookie Sampson helps Astros blank Cubs in first career start

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- While Roger Clemens gets ready to return, the Houston Astros have found someone else to give their pitching rotation a boost.

Chris Sampson tossed seven innings of three-hit ball in his first major league start Wednesday, leading the Astros over the Chicago Cubs 1-0.

"I always expect myself to go out there and compete, succeed and work hard for my teammates," said Sampson, a native of nearby Pasadena, Texas. "I kept that same approach, just like I do every other start, in the minor leagues."

Sampson set down the first 11 batters he faced, 10 on groundouts. He walked Michael Barrett with two outs in the fourth, but got Todd Walker to fly out.

Dan Wheeler worked a hitless eighth and Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Clemens is due to make his return start at Minute Maid Park on June 22, but manager Phil Garner likes what he's seen lately from his staff without the Rocket. On Tuesday night, three pitchers combined to scatter seven hits in a 4-1 victory.

"One of our biggest problems is we've not been able to establish that flow in a game," Garner said. "The last couple nights, that's more the flow we like to see."

Sampson was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on June 2 and made his major league debut later that day, allowing six hits and three runs in 5 1-3 innings of relief against the Cincinnati Reds.

With Roy Oswalt nursing a sore back, manager Phil Garner decided to start Sampson, who was 7-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 10 starts this season with Round Rock.

Sampson (1-0) said he had about 100 friends and family in the stands Wednesday and he put on a show, outdueling Cubs rookie starter Sean Marshall (3-4).

Of the 21 batters Sampson retired, 16 grounded out. He didn't have any strikeouts, but assisted on six putouts.

"He was very much in control, very composed," catcher Brad Ausmus said. "He seems to be the type of guy who enjoys the energy of being on the mound."

Ausmus, batting .321 since April 13, led off the third with a long homer off that bounced off the brick facade in left field, his first. Outside of that mistake, Marshall was just as sharp as Sampson, striking out Morgan Ensberg and Preston Wilson to end the fourth.

John Mabry reached on an infield single in the fifth for the Cubs' first hit.

Jason Lane led off the bottom half with a deep fly that sailed just outside the left-field foul pole. Umpire Jim Reynolds called it a home run at first and a cannon blast echoed through Minute Maid Park as Cubs manager Dusty Baker jogged out to protest. Umpires Tim Welke and Kerwin Danley conferred with Reynolds and the ball was ruled foul.

Lane eventually walked, but Marshall struck out Ausmus and Adam Everett rolled into a double play.

"He was keeping us in the game, doing his job," Baker said of Marshall. "If you pitch like that every time, you're going to win a lot of ballgames."

Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman reached on sharp grounders in the sixth that Aramis Ramirez misplayed -- both were ruled hits -- but Marshall got Ensberg to fly out to end the threat.

Marshall has tossed at least seven innings in three starts this season and is tied with Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm for most starts by an NL rookie (12).

"Great effort by him," Baker said. "You just don't think you're going to lose a game 1-0."

Barrett led off the seventh with a single to center, the first ball a Cub hit to the outfield since the fourth. With two outs, Mabry lined a single to right, but Matt Murton flew out to Lane and Sampson smacked his glove with satisfaction.

"He did a real nice job," Ausmus said. "He didn't seem to be overmatched mentally or physically."

Marshall allowed four hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked three and got a quick pep talk from Cubs ace Greg Maddux after the game.

"The guys who bounce back from losses the best, stay around the longest," Marshall said Maddux told him. "It's unfortunate to get a loss in a game like this, but that's just baseball."

Notes

  • The Astros took two of three from the Cubs, Houston's first series win since May 19-21.
  • CF Chris Burke left the game in the third inning when he re-separated his left shoulder whiffing on a pitch. Willy Taveras replaced Burke, who had started 11 of the last 13 games. Burke hurt his shoulder the first time when he crashed into the wall at Coors Field on May 6. He was placed on the disabled list and missed 13 games. After the game, Garner said Burke was day to day.
  • The Cubs have won the season series with the Astros the past three years.
 
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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Chris Sampson issues a walk and three hits over seven innings in his first major league start.  (AP)
Chris Sampson issues a walk and three hits over seven innings in his first major league start. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

B. Ausmus
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Chicago

J. Mabry
AB 3
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF3000000 .240
Tony Womack, 2B4000001 .280
Michael Barrett, C3010100 .298
Todd Walker, 1B4000002 .302
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000001 .242
John Mabry, RF3020000 .214
Matt Murton, LF3000003 .276
Ronny Cedeno, SS3000011 .297
Sean Marshall, P2000000 .125
   a- Jacque Jones, PH1000010 .307
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    David Aardsma, P0000000 .000
Totals30030128 
a-struck out for Marshall in the 8th
Fielding
DP - Cedeno-Womack-Walker, Womack-Cedeno-Walker
Chicago Cubs
Sean Marshall (L,3-4) 7411351 4.43
Scott Eyre 0.1100000 1.78
David Aardsma 0.2000000 7.59
Pitches-Strikes - Sean Marshall 86-49, Scott Eyre 6-4, David Aardsma 7-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sean Marshall 10-3, Scott Eyre 1-0
Batters Faced - Sean Marshall 25, Scott Eyre 2, David Aardsma 2
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4010012 .278
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Chris Burke, CF1000000 .280
   a- Willy Taveras, PH-CF3000002 .259
Lance Berkman, 1B3010000 .299
Morgan Ensberg, 3B3000012 .258
Preston Wilson, LF3010010 .273
Jason Lane, RF1000201 .192
Brad Ausmus, C3111013 .301
Adam Everett, SS2010101 .213
Chris Sampson, P1000010 .000
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
   b- Eric Bruntlett, PH-2B0000000 .288
Totals241513511 
a-grounded out for Burke in the 3rd
b-hit a sacrifice bunt for Wheeler in the 8th
Batting
HR - Brad Ausmus (1, Marshall)
SH - Chris Sampson (1), Eric Bruntlett (1)
RBI - Brad Ausmus (14)
CS - Jason Lane (1, 2nd base by Marshall/Barrett)
Team LOB - 4
Houston Astros
Chris Sampson (W,1-0) 7300100 2.19
Dan Wheeler (H,8) 1000020 4.91
Brad Lidge (S,15) 1000000 5.02
HBP - Pierre (by Dan Wheeler)
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Sampson 86-55, Dan Wheeler 23-12, Brad Lidge 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Sampson 16-5, Brad Lidge 1-2
Batters Faced - Chris Sampson 25, Dan Wheeler 4, Brad Lidge 3
Game Information
Attendance - 42492
Game Time - 2:18
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Kerwin Danley, Second Base - Gary Cederstrom, Third Base - Jim Reynolds