HOUSTON -- Decisions, decisions -- or rather, finally just one.
Shawn Chacon pitched seven solid innings for his first victory this season, breaking his major league record streak of nine consecutive no-decisions to start a season in Houston's 5-3 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
Carlos Lee's three-run homer in the third inning helped Chacon (1-0) overcome a rough start and avoid tying another mark -- the overall record for consecutive starts without a decision -- or worse, let his first decision be a loss.
The Astros took two out of three games from their NL Central rivals and have won nine of their past 13 games.
"It feels like I won my first game ever, that's how long it's been," a beaming Chacon said. "I was pretty happy. But more importantly, we win the series against the first-place team and we've got some momentum heading into this weekend."
It was his first victory since Aug. 28.
"He settled down after the first inning," Derrek Lee said of Chacon. "He really just shut us down after that."
Ryan Theriot singled with two outs in the second inning, but was picked off at first after drifting too far from the base. Chacon, in his first season in Houston after spending 2007 in Pittsburgh, then settled down and retired the next 12 batters, with four strikeouts.
"It was good," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "He deserved it. After the first inning, you can't pitch better than that."
He didn't allow another hit until Hoffpauir's double to lead off the seventh inning. He got the next three in a row out before he was replaced by Doug Brocail to start the eighth.
The win should allow him to shed the nickname "ND" his teammates took to calling him during his string of no-decisions.
"It is gone. Right now," he said. "It was a crazy streak. I didn't think I'd go almost two months without a decision but, hey get the first one and let it be a win, I can't complain."
Brocail was perfect in the eighth and closer Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save. Valverde has not allowed a run in 17 consecutive appearances.
Miguel Tejada's grounder bounced off pitcher Sean Gallagher's right shin for a run-scoring single in the third inning that made it 3-1. Cubs trainers examined Gallagher's leg after the hit, but he remained in the game and appeared to be OK.
"Gallagher's got a nice arm," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's got a better arm than I thought he had. Today he got ahead of hitters a lot, but he couldn't put them away. Of course that breaking ball to Lee is not so bad. Lee makes $100 million doing those sorts of things."
Cooper believes his team is hitting its stride and is improving as the players get more comfortable with each other.
"Early on we were just trying to find out who we are," he said. "Now we know who we are and we're pretty good."
Lance Berkman was hit by a pitch and stole second base before scoring on a single by Geoff Blum that chased Gallagher and pushed the lead to 5-3 in the fifth inning. That steal tied his career-high of nine set in 2004.
He was replaced by Michael Wuertz, who walked two before fanning Chacon for the third out.
In his first career road start, Gallagher (1-1) allowed eight hits and five runs with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
"My execution wasn't there," Gallagher said. "I've got to be able to control myself better."
Chacon, who has a team-high seven quality starts this season, allowed five hits and three runs with five strikeouts and a walk. His 4.11 ERA is the lowest among Astros starters.
- Theriot might have had the defensive play of the game when he fell backward into the left field stands to catch a would-be foul ball by Carlos Lee in the first inning.
- Hoffpauir was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
- Mark DeRosa was 0-for-3 to break his career-high 11 game hitting streak.
- Derrek Lee's home run was the 249th of his career.