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Chicago at Houston

Scoreboard
Chi. Cubs «000010000181
Houston000000000070

Cubs 1, Astros 0

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Sean Marshall gave the Chicago Cubs some hope with his second sparkling start at Minute Maid Park.

The rookie allowed six hits and struck out two in seven strong innings to help the Cubs beat the Astros 1-0 on Wednesday night, averting a three-game sweep.

Todd Walker had an RBI double in the fifth, the only run off Oswalt (6-5), who lost his second straight complete game. He lost to Texas 3-1 on June 30.

Oswalt struck out six and scattered eight hits in what manager Phil Garner said was the ace's best start of the season.

The loss seemed to be the only thing that mattered to Oswalt afterward.

"You do all you can do," he said. "Hopefully, it will turn around sometime."

Marshall (5-7), meanwhile, snapped a two-game losing streak with his second sharp effort in Houston in a month. On June 7, he gave up only four hits with five strikeouts, but Astros rookie Chris Sampson dominated the Cubs in Houston's 1-0 win.

Marshall mused that the controlled atmosphere in the enclosed ballpark might be the reason for his success here.

"I don't know if it's the roof or what, but the last two starts here, I've pitched pretty well," he said. "I don't know if it's the air conditioning. But I felt good and I didn't want to lose this."

The Astros helped him on Wednesday by stranding 12 runners, including two in the bottom of the ninth.

After Bob Howry relieved Marshall in the eighth, Ryan Dempster pitched out of the jam in the final inning to earn his 13th save.

With runners on first and third, Dempster got Chris Burke to pop out and Morgan Ensberg to ground out.

"I was nervous," said Dempster, who'd blown five of his last 10 save chances. "I was scared of what might come crashing down on me. I can't tell you how big that was for me."

The Cubs won for the third time in 13 games, while the Astros had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Chicago's victory came hours after manager Dusty Baker met with general manager Jim Hendry to discuss the direction of the team. Hendry said he would re-evaluate the team and consider staff changes over the All-Star break.

Baker was confident he would still have his job afterward -- and the victory sure won't hurt his chances.

"This is good for everyone's psyche," Baker said.

Oswalt, a 20-game winner the past two seasons, hasn't earned a victory since beating the Cubs 5-4 on June 14. He has only two wins since May 3, getting no decisions in five of his last seven starts.

The Astros had scored at least seven runs in their last four games, but Oswalt thinks his teammates tighten up when he pitches.

"I think sometimes they try too hard," Oswalt said. "Instead of just swinging at the ball, like nobody's on, they try to feel for the ball and try to do something with it instead of just swinging."

Marshall allowed only singles to Craig Biggio and Burke until Jason Lane doubled with one out in the fourth. It was Lane's third hit in 17 at-bats, but he was promptly tagged out on Eric Bruntlett's weak grounder back to Marshall.

Walker's double to the wall scored Michael Barrett, who singled with one out. Preston Wilson quickly fielded Walker's liner to the gap and Bruntlett had a chance to throw out Barrett, but his throw home was well off target.

The Astros had plenty of chances to tie it.

They stranded two runners in the first, third and fourth and then loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. But Lane flew out to Juan Pierre at the wall in left-center.

Biggio led off the sixth with a double off the left-field wall. Burke bunted him to third, but Marshall retired Ensberg and Lance Berkman on ground outs.

"Oh, boy, it was a furstrating night," Garner said. "We had some at-bats where we hit the ball and didn't get anything for it. We had guys all over the bases, with chances to do something. We just didn't do it."

Notes

Biggio has 630 doubles, ninth on the all-time list and 10 behind Honus Wagner. He has four straight multi-hit games and 22 this season. ... Berkman had a nine-game hitting streak snapped. ... Oswalt dropped to 10-2 when he pitches a complete game. ... Brad Ausmus ended an 0-for-40 slump with a grounder that ricocheted off a diving Ramirez. Ausmus' hit drought was an Astros' record for a non-pitcher. ... The Cubs have never been swept at Minute Maid Park. The last time they were swept in Houston was in 1999, the final year the Astros played in the Astrodome.

 
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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Players of the Game
Chicago

S. Marshall
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 3
K 2
Houston

C. Biggio
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF4000004 .267
Angel Pagan, LF4000011 .273
Derrek Lee, 1B3010100 .314
Jacque Jones, RF4010011 .307
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000022 .248
Michael Barrett, C3120100 .310
Todd Walker, 2B4011003 .286
    Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .000
Neifi Perez, SS-2B4030011 .258
Sean Marshall, P0000001 .111
    Bob Howry, P00000001.000
   a- Phil Nevin, PH1000011 .226
    Ronny Cedeno, SS0000000 .265
Totals311812614 
a-struck out for Howry in the 9th
Batting
2B - Michael Barrett (10, Oswalt), Todd Walker (13, Oswalt)
SH - Sean Marshall 3 (3)
RBI - Todd Walker (34)
CS - Derrek Lee (4, 2nd base by Oswalt/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Aramis Ramirez (4, Wild throw)
Chicago Cubs
Sean Marshall (W,5-7) 7600320 4.80
Bob Howry (H,10) 1000010 3.27
Ryan Dempster (S,13) 1100110 4.91
IBB - Pr. Wilson by Sean Marshall
HBP - Ensberg (by Sean Marshall)
Pitches-Strikes - Sean Marshall 102-56, Bob Howry 16-12, Ryan Dempster 20-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sean Marshall 6-13, Bob Howry 1-1, Ryan Dempster 1-1
Batters Faced - Sean Marshall 31, Bob Howry 3, Ryan Dempster 5
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B5030000 .282
Chris Burke, CF4020003 .299
Morgan Ensberg, 3B2000203 .236
Lance Berkman, 1B4000005 .317
Preston Wilson, LF3000112 .286
Jason Lane, RF4010003 .207
Eric Bruntlett, SS4000010 .259
Brad Ausmus, C3010000 .241
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH0000100 .226
    Willy Taveras, PR0000000 .260
Roy Oswalt, P3000012 .111
   b- Mike Lamb, PH1000011 .332
Totals330704419 
a-walked for Ausmus in the 9th
b-struck out for Oswalt in the 9th
Batting
2B - Craig Biggio (26, Marshall), Jason Lane (9, Marshall)
SH - Chris Burke (1)
Team LOB - 12
Fielding
DP - Ausmus-Bruntlett
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (L,6-5) 9811260 3.10
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 113-76
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 12-8
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 36
Game Information
Attendance - 31952
Game Time - 2:43
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Marvin Hudson, Second Base - Ed Montague, Third Base - Jerry Layne