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Houston at Chicago

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Houston «000010020390
Chi. Cubs110000000281

Cubs waste Zambrano's solid start as Astros rally for sweep

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Houston's latest victory was a tough one for manager Phil Garner to sit through.

Brad Ausmus hit a two-run single in the eighth inning, rallying the Astros to a 3-2 victory Thursday and a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

The Astros earned their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since May 15-17, 2001. They have won four straight overall and eight of 11.

"A little frightening, but we got it done," Garner said.

Chris Burke and Lance Berkman began the eighth with consecutive singles off Bob Howry (2-2). One out later, Preston Wilson hit a sharp grounder to Todd Walker, who is playing first in the absence of Derrek Lee, and his off-balance throwing error to second loaded the bases.

Ausmus then grounded a single to right field, giving Houston the lead. Berkman scored the winning run ahead of a poor throw from Jacque Jones.

Ausmus was glad to redeem himself after hitting into a double play with the bases loaded in the Astros' 9-2 win over the Cubs on Tuesday.

"It was nice to come up with the bases loaded and do something positive," he said.

Michael Barrett hit a single to lead off the bottom half for the Cubs, but Walker quickly grounded into the easy double play.

"It seems like the majority of this year we've found ways to lose, and you can pin today directly on me," Walker said.

Walker wasn't the only Cub struggling to hit with runners on. Chicago stranded two runners at third with less than two outs, most notably in the seventh when Freddie Bynum hit a leadoff triple. Juan Pierre stole second base four times but scored only once.

"This was a tough one to take," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "You just get tired of the same kind of thing. The guys are busting their (humps) but just coming up short."

Carlos Zambrano held Houston in check for seven innings. He gave up five hits, struck out five and walked two. He said he got tired early and that was why Baker lifted him after 107 pitches.

"He was out of gas," Baker said. "He threw a lot of pitches in the middle innings. He gave it all he had. We certainly didn't want him to throw 120, 125 pitches again."

The Astros certainly weren't complaining.

"We were just getting ready to hit," Garner said jokingly of Zambrano's exit. "I was glad, obviously."

Zambrano has thrown at least 101 pitches in all of his 15 starts. He threw 126 in each of his two previous outings, but the Venezuelan right-hander has always been comfortable with a heavy workload. He has thrown more than 200 innings in his three full seasons.

"My arm was heavy," Zambrano said of leaving after seven innings. "At some point of the season, this always happens to me."

Pierre stole a career-best four bases and Jones homered for the Cubs, who have lost 15 of their last 21 home games.

Dave Borkowski (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to get the win. Brad Lidge struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.

Bynum tripled to left to start the seventh. Ronny Cedeno and pinch-hitter Phil Nevin grounded to second against a drawn-in infield before Pierre walked and Tony Womack grounded out.

"You just hope that doesn't come back to haunt you and today it did," Pierre said.

Jones hit a solo homer off Fernando Nieve leading off the second, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

The Astros cut the lead to one in the fifth when Adam Everett doubled and scored on Willy Taveras' RBI grounder.

Pierre's only run came in the first when he scored on Barrett's sacrifice fly. Pierre reached on a bunt single, stole second on a pitchout and went to third on Womack's sacrifice. Pierre finished 2-for-3.

Nieve gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Notes

  • Pierre had stolen three bases six times.
  • Baker stacked his lineup with five left-handers, not including the switch-hitting Zambrano, against Nieve, who had struggled against left-handers this season.
  • Baker celebrated his 57th birthday.
  • Baker said RHP Mark Prior will throw a side session Friday in anticipation of a possible start Sunday.
  • he Cubs are 0-6 on Thursday.
  • Burke is hitting .400 (14-for-35) over his last nine games.
  • The Cubs have been swept six times this season.
 
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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Lance Berkman slides in with the go-ahead run as Adam Everett celebrates with Chris Burke.  (AP)
Lance Berkman slides in with the go-ahead run as Adam Everett celebrates with Chris Burke. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

J. Jones
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Houston

B. Ausmus
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5011001 .265
Mike Lamb, 3B4000112 .339
Chris Burke, 2B3120201 .320
Lance Berkman, 1B5110014 .308
Jason Lane, RF5000015 .209
Preston Wilson, LF4020010 .279
Brad Ausmus, C4022013 .286
Adam Everett, SS4110013 .210
Fernando Nieve, P1000000 .133
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
   a- Morgan Ensberg, PH0000000 .256
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
   b- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000012 .222
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Totals363933721 
a-hit by pitch for Miller in the 7th
b-struck out for Borkowski in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adam Everett (10, Zambrano)
SH - Fernando Nieve (5)
RBI - Willy Taveras (15), Brad Ausmus 2 (17)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Burke-Everett-Berkman
Houston Astros
Fernando Nieve 5.2622001 4.71
Trever Miller 0.1000000 4.42
Dave Borkowski (W,1-0) 1100100 3.82
Chad Qualls (H,8) 1100000 3.82
Brad Lidge (S,18) 1000020 4.68
Pitches-Strikes - Fernando Nieve 87-59, Trever Miller 7-5, Dave Borkowski 22-11, Chad Qualls 9-5, Brad Lidge 11-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Fernando Nieve 9-8, Dave Borkowski 3-0, Chad Qualls 2-0, Brad Lidge 1-0
Batters Faced - Fernando Nieve 23, Trever Miller 1, Dave Borkowski 5, Chad Qualls 3, Brad Lidge 3
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF3120101 .245
Tony Womack, 2B3000004 .274
Michael Barrett, C3011001 .308
Todd Walker, 1B4020002 .294
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000002 .248
Jacque Jones, RF4111011 .286
Freddie Bynum, LF4010010 .234
Ronny Cedeno, SS3000001 .296
   a- John Mabry, PH1000000 .216
Carlos Zambrano, P2010000 .103
   b- Phil Nevin, PH1000001 .233
    Bob Howry, P00000001.000
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Roberto Novoa, P0000000 .333
Totals322821213 
a-grounded out for Cedeno in the 9th
b-grounded out for Zambrano in the 7th
Batting
2B - Todd Walker (10, Nieve)
3B - Freddie Bynum (3, Borkowski)
HR - Jacque Jones (12, Nieve)
SF - Michael Barrett (3)
SH - Tony Womack (4)
RBI - Michael Barrett (30), Jacque Jones (34)
SB - Juan Pierre 4 (24, 2nd base off Nieve/Ausmus, 2nd base off Nieve/Ausmus, 2nd base off Nieve/Ausmus, 2nd base off Borkowski/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Todd Walker (3, wild throw)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano 7511250 2.82
Bob Howry (BS,2; L,2-2) 1321010 2.23
Scott Eyre 0.2100110 2.45
Roberto Novoa 0.1000000 4.50
HBP - Ensberg (by Carlos Zambrano)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 107-68, Bob Howry 29-20, Scott Eyre 21-13, Roberto Novoa 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 7-9, Bob Howry 1-2
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 29, Bob Howry 7, Scott Eyre 4, Roberto Novoa 1
Game Information
Attendance - 40236
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Dan Iassogna, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Lance Barksdale