Chicago at Houston

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Chi. Cubs (58-55)0000001102121
Houston (51-63) «00301310x8110

Astros rock Zambrano, complete three-game sweep over Cubs

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros finally solved Carlos Zambrano and kept the Chicago Cubs from grabbing a share of the lead in the NL Central.

Roy Oswalt pitched six shutout innings and Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman hit solo home runs off Zambrano as the Astros beat the Cubs 8-2 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.

Luke Scott added a two-run triple and Mike Lamb had a two-run double as Houston snapped a four-game losing streak to the Cubs ace, who hadn't given up more than one earned run against Houston in almost two years.

"He's not invincible," Berkman said. "He's probably one of the two or three best pitchers in the league and certainly a daunting foe. But we got him tonight. Tonight was our night."

Zambrano went 5-1 in July with a 1.38 ERA. He knew early on that he didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday night.

"I was just fighting myself," he said. "I know when you stay calm and in control of yourself, you can do a better job. But I didn't do that."

Oswalt (12-6), meanwhile, won his fourth straight start while snapping a four-game losing streak to Chicago.

The Cubs have lost four in a row and six of their last seven, averaging 2.7 runs in the losses. They remained one game behind NL Central leader Milwaukee, who lost 19-4 to Colorado on Wednesday.

The Astros have now moved within 8½ games of the division lead with the sagging Brewers coming to town for a three-game series. Houston is still 51-63 and the players are keeping their chances of a playoff charge in perspective.

"We've got a lot of undigging to do," said catcher Brad Ausmus, who homered in the seventh off Michael Wuertz.

Biggio lined a homer into the left-field porch with one out in the third, the first earned run Houston had scored off Zambrano in 24 2/3 innings. Zambrano (14-8) had a combined 0.29 ERA in his previous four starts against the Astros.

Berkman walked and Carlos Lee singled before Scott drove a triple to the gap in right center to make it 3-0. The three runs were the most the Astros had scored off Zambrano since Sept. 24, 2005, when he gave up six runs in an 8-3 loss at Wrigley Field.

"That was the swing of the game," Berkman said of Scott's drive to the bullpen fence.

Oswalt faced trouble in the top of the fourth, giving up consecutive singles to Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot. Koyie Hill drew a one-out walk to load the bases for Zambrano, who has three home runs at Minute Maid Park.

This time, Oswalt struck him out and Zambrano snapped his bat over his knee as he trudged back to the dugout.

"What makes me mad is I got good pitches and I was thinking too much," Zambrano said. "If he'd have thrown me a curve ball, I would've understood. But he threw me a fastball and that's the pitch I was supposed to hit. That's why I was upset."

The Cubs stranded seven baserunners in the first four innings and 13 in the game.

"That's quite a few," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

Berkman hammered Zambrano's first pitch of the fifth into the balcony in center field for a 4-0 lead. Berkman has hit 17 of his 20 home runs this season batting left-handed.

That was more than enough run support for Oswalt, who gave up six hits with four strikeouts and four walks.

Zambrano walked Eric Bruntlett leading off the Astros sixth and Ausmus got him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Orlando Palmeiro pinch hit for Oswalt and walked before Lamb doubled into the left-field corner to make it 6-0.

Scott Eyre then relieved the excitable Zambrano, who yelled back at taunting fans as he walked back to the dugout. Scott drew a bases-loaded walk off Eyre later in the inning to stretch the lead to 7-0.

Dave Borkowski relieved Oswalt for the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Theriot. Theriot went to third on Jacque Jones' double and scored Chicago's first run on Derrek Lee's ground out.

Houston reliever Matt Albers gave up an RBI single to Theriot in the eighth.

Notes

  • Biggio got his 3,024th career hit, breaking a tie with Lou Brock for 22nd on the all-time list.
  • The Astros have homered in 11 consecutive games, a season high.
  • Zambrano notched his 1,000th career strikeout in the second inning, fanning Scott.
  • Oswalt earned his 110th career win, tying Mike Scott for third place on the Astros' all-time list.
  • Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was a last-minute lineup scratch because of a sore right wrist. DeRosa moved over from 2B to replace Ramirez and Fontenot started at 2B. Piniella said Ramirez flew back to Chicago and will see a hand specialist on Thursday. But Piniella added that he didn't think the injury was serious.
 
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
Houston

L. Scott
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
Chicago

R. Theriot
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Chicago Cubs
Ryan Theriot, SS5131003 .286
Jacque Jones, CF4020101 .251
Derrek Lee, 1B3001202 .320
Cliff Floyd, RF4010113 .290
Mark DeRosa, 3B5020003 .285
Mike Fontenot, 2B5010003 .302
Matt Murton, LF4020002 .266
Koyie Hill, C3010102 .159
Carlos Zambrano, P3000035 .267
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
   a- Felix Pie, PH1100001 .214
    Sean Gallagher, P0000000 .000
Totals37212254  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Wuertz in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jacque Jones (21, Borkowski), Mark DeRosa (21, Oswalt)
RBI - Ryan Theriot (32), Derrek Lee (60)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Theriot (10)
Team LOB - 13
Fielding
E - Mike Fontenot (8, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (L,14-8) 5.2877362 3.69
Scott Eyre0100200 5.45
Michael Wuertz 1.1111011 3.54
Sean Gallagher 1100100 5.25
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 113-70, Scott Eyre 15-7, Michael Wuertz 23-15, Sean Gallagher 23-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 8-4, Michael Wuertz 2-1, Sean Gallagher 3-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 29, Scott Eyre 3, Michael Wuertz 5, Sean Gallagher 5
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B5111010 .244
    Matt Albers, P0000000 .154
    Brian Moehler, P0000000 .250
Mike Lamb, 3B5112002 .295
Lance Berkman, 1B3211210 .258
Carlos Lee, LF4130000 .307
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Chris Burke, 2B1010000 .234
Luke Scott, RF3013221 .250
Jason Lane, CF5000027 .162
Eric Bruntlett, SS3110100 .263
Brad Ausmus, C3111012 .235
Roy Oswalt, P2010000 .125
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH-LF1100100 .241
Totals35811867  
a-walked for Oswalt in the 6th
Batting
2B - Mike Lamb (9, Zambrano), Carlos Lee (32, Zambrano), Chris Burke (13, Gallagher)
3B - Luke Scott (3, Zambrano)
HR - Craig Biggio (8, Zambrano), Lance Berkman (20, Zambrano), Brad Ausmus (3, Wuertz)
SH - Brad Ausmus (4)
RBI - Craig Biggio (40), Mike Lamb 2 (34), Lance Berkman (71), Luke Scott 3 (49), Brad Ausmus (21)
2-OUT RBI - Mike Lamb 2 (18), Luke Scott 3 (19)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Bruntlett-Berkman, Bruntlett-Burke-Berkman
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (W,12-6) 6600440 3.42
Dave Borkowski 0.1211000 5.51
Trever Miller 0.2000100 4.64
Matt Albers 1311000 6.30
Brian Moehler 1100000 5.22
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 108-68, Dave Borkowski 10-5, Trever Miller 13-5, Matt Albers 19-11, Brian Moehler 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 6-7, Dave Borkowski 1-0, Trever Miller 1-1, Matt Albers 2-1, Brian Moehler 2-0
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 27, Dave Borkowski 3, Trever Miller 3, Matt Albers 6, Brian Moehler 3
Game Information
Attendance - 41655
Game Time - 3:07
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Tim Timmons