Chicago at Houston

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Chi. Cubs (75-71) «4000101006110
Houston (63-83)000200000282

Cubs use four home runs, Trachsel to regain lead in NL Central

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The Chicago Cubs used a simple formula to regain the NL Central lead Thursday night. If only they can follow it in St. Louis this weekend.

Steve Trachsel earned his first win with the Cubs in eight years and Chicago hit four home runs in a 6-2 victory against the Houston Astros.

Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Daryle Ward and Cliff Floyd all went deep for Chicago, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Milwaukee in the division race. On Friday night, the Cubs will open a four-game series at third-place St. Louis.

"It doesn't matter if you hit 10 home runs every day," Ramirez said. "If you don't pitch and if you don't play defense, you're not going to win games. You've got to do everything right. Everybody has got to do their job for us to be able to win games."

Trachsel (1-2) gave up two solo home runs and seven hits in five innings for his first victory since the Cubs acquired him from Baltimore on Aug. 31.

The 36-year-old right-hander pitched for the Cubs from 1993-99, and his last victory with them came on Oct. 3, 1999. The 2,906-day gap between victories is the third-longest in team history.

Trachsel was pitching on three days' rest, and Cubs manager Lou Piniella got exactly what he needed from him. Scott Eyre, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol then combined for four scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

"We thought if we got five or six innings out of him, we'd be pleased," Piniella said. "As it was, he gave us five. Scotty came in and really threw the ball well. So did Woody. We're not complaining."

Carlos Lee and Mark Loretta hit home runs for the Astros, who have dropped 10 of 15 games since Cecil Cooper replaced Phil Garner as manager on Aug. 27. Woody Williams (8-15) gave up four home runs for the first time this season and lost his fourth consecutive start.

"It seemed like I made a lot of mistakes over the plate," Williams said. "We kept fighting and getting close, but basically without me out there today, we might have had a better chance."

The Cubs staked Trachsel to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

Soriano hit Williams' second pitch off the brick facade in left field; it was his 40th career leadoff home run. Soriano has eight leadoff home runs this season, tying the Cubs record set by Rick Monday in 1976.

Mike Fontenot followed with a single and Floyd walked before Ramirez hit a three-run shot to left. Ramirez has 23 home runs this season and five this month.

"When you give your starting pitcher a four-run lead in the first inning, it's great," Ramirez said. "He just needs to go out and throw strikes and make the guys hit the ball."

Chicago's defense helped Trachsel avoid early trouble.

Luke Scott tripled with one out in the Astros' second, his second triple of the series. Loretta walked before Eric Munson grounded into a double play. The Astros also put two on with one out in the third inning, but Chicago escaped with another double play.

Trachsel's confidence grew with every pitch.

"I was kind of glad, for more reasons than one, that we scored four runs in the first," he said. "It took me a while to calm down, to get the adrenaline level down a little bit, so I had a little bit of control when I went out there."

Trachsel made his only costly mistakes in the fourth inning. Lee led off with his 28th home run -- and first since Sept. 1. With two outs, Loretta homered barely inside the foul pole in left.

Williams retired 11 consecutive batters after the shaky start. Ward ended the streak with a two-out, solo home run in the fifth that stretched Chicago's lead to 5-2.

Eyre relieved Trachsel in the sixth and the Cubs ended another inning with a double play. Eyre has a 1.02 ERA since the All-Star break.

Floyd led off the seventh with a home run into the upper deck in right field. The only other time the Cubs hit four home runs in a game this season was June 8 in a 9-1 victory against Atlanta.

Last week, Piniella told Floyd the Cubs were going to need his bat down the stretch.

"There's no added pressure," Floyd said. "I know he's counted on me the whole season. I just feel bad I haven't had the season I wanted to have. But we talked about it earlier. You can forget the whole season if I can help us get into the playoffs."

Notes

  • The Cubs improved to 5-18-2 in series when they lose the first game.
  • Soriano has three leadoff home runs in September. He's the only major league player to hit at least eight leadoff homers in four seasons.
  • Ward replaced 1B Derrek Lee in the starting lineup. Lee was a late scratch because of a sore right knee.
  • Hunter Pence set a Houston rookie record with his 29th double.
  • The Cubs have 20 home runs in 12 games in September.
 
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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It seems like old times for Steve Trachsel, who earns his first victory for the Cubs in nearly eight years.  (AP)
It seems like old times for Steve Trachsel, who earns his first victory for the Cubs in nearly eight years. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

D. Ward
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 5
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5111016 .289
Mike Fontenot, 2B5120002 .291
Cliff Floyd, RF3211101 .290
    Felix Pie, CF1000000 .211
Aramis Ramirez, 3B5113001 .315
Daryle Ward, 1B4121001 .340
Jason Kendall, C4010001 .247
Jacque Jones, CF-RF4020001 .276
Ryan Theriot, SS3000100 .272
Steve Trachsel, P2000013 .100
   a- Craig Monroe, PH1010000 .223
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
   b- Matt Murton, PH1000011 .268
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
Totals38611623  
a-singled for Trachsel in the 6th
b-struck out for Wood in the 8th
Batting
2B - Mike Fontenot (12, Williams)
HR - Alfonso Soriano (25, Williams), Cliff Floyd (7, Williams), Aramis Ramirez (23, Williams), Daryle Ward (3, Williams)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano (54), Cliff Floyd (42), Aramis Ramirez 3 (89), Daryle Ward (16)
2-OUT RBI - Daryle Ward (9)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Fontenot-Theriot-Ward, Fontenot-Theriot, Fontenot-Ward
Chicago Cubs
Steve Trachsel (W,7-10) 5722342 4.74
Scott Eyre (H,5) 1100010 4.53
Kerry Wood 1000010 5.17
Carlos Marmol 2000130 1.31
Pitches-Strikes - Steve Trachsel 88-47, Scott Eyre 9-8, Kerry Wood 15-12, Carlos Marmol 25-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Steve Trachsel 5-4, Scott Eyre 1-0, Carlos Marmol 1-2
Batters Faced - Steve Trachsel 23, Scott Eyre 3, Kerry Wood 3, Carlos Marmol 7
Houston Astros
Hunter Pence, CF4020011 .328
Craig Biggio, 2B3010011 .253
Lance Berkman, 1B3000113 .275
Carlos Lee, LF4111013 .295
Mike Lamb, 3B4000022 .288
Luke Scott, RF4020000 .260
Mark Loretta, SS3111111 .281
Eric Munson, C1000101 .231
   a- Cody Ransom, PH1000001 .111
    Humberto Quintero, C0000000 .204
   b- Josh Anderson, PH0000100 .000
Woody Williams, P2010011 .102
   c- Chris Burke, PH1000000 .226
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Dennis Sarfate, P0000000 .000
   d- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000011 .237
Totals3128249  
a-grounded into a double play for Munson in the 6th
b-walked for Quintero in the 9th
c-flied out for Williams in the 7th
d-struck out for Sarfate in the 9th
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (29, Trachsel)
3B - Luke Scott (5, Trachsel)
HR - Carlos Lee (28, Trachsel), Mark Loretta (4, Trachsel)
SH - Craig Biggio (3)
RBI - Carlos Lee (106), Mark Loretta (37)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Loretta (20)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Loretta-Biggio-Berkman
E - Lance Berkman (12, Throwing), Mike Lamb (11, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Woody Williams (L,8-15) 71166224 5.04
Trever Miller 1000010 4.67
Dennis Sarfate 1000000 0.00
IBB - Theriot by Woody Williams
Pitches-Strikes - Woody Williams 85-57, Trever Miller 11-7, Dennis Sarfate 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Woody Williams 6-13, Trever Miller 2-0, Dennis Sarfate 1-2
Batters Faced - Woody Williams 34, Trever Miller 3, Dennis Sarfate 3
Game Information
Attendance - 34234
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Jeff Kellogg, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Andy Fletcher, Third Base - Mike Reilly