|Houston (73-66) «||0||1||0||0||2||4||0||0||0||0||2||9||12||0|
|Chi. Cubs (85-54)||1||0||0||2||0||3||1||0||0||0||0||7||15||3|
CHICAGO -- No one knew Carlos Zambrano was hurting.
The Chicago Cubs starting pitcher left after five innings on a hot and muggy Tuesday night, more than two hours before Geoff Blum won it for the Houston Astros with a two-run homer in the 11th inning.
Zambrano's short outing was almost forgotten after the Astros' wild 9-7 victory.
So it was a bit of a surprise when Cubs manager Lou Piniella revealed that Zambrano left because of arm problems. Zambrano will have his right arm examined Wednesday.
Any absence could affect the Cubs, who are trying to hold on to first place in the NL Central, not to mention the best record in the league. With starter Rich Harden being skipped for precautionary reasons this week, this is news the Cubs didn't need to hear.
"He told our pitching coach he wasn't feeling good," Piniella said. "It has to be in his arm. I just don't know. We'll let you know tomorrow when we find out."
Blum's two-run homer off Kerry Wood sent the Astros to their seventh consecutive victory, one shy of their season high.
"That's what we've been doing lately," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "Getting it from everywhere and everybody. Just contributions up and down the lineup."
The first-place Cubs, who have lost four straight, all at home, remained 4½ games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central.
"We're in a stretch right now where things aren't going our way," Piniella said. "We've just got to battle through it. What can you do?"
Zambrano was coming off a poor August and was pushed back two days with arm fatigue. He didn't overpower the Astros, rarely hitting 90 mph, and gave up three runs, five hits and three walks in five innings. He was pulled after 86 pitches.
Zambrano was unavailable for comment, and his teammates were almost speechless about a possible injury.
"I had no idea," catcher Geovany Soto said. "I still don't know what's going on. To be honest with you, I think he was a little better than his last couple outings."
Wood (4-3) walked Lance Berkman and Blum sent the first pitch into the bleachers in right for his 14th home run. Wood struck out four in two innings.
"Lance worked a pretty big walk in that situation," Blum said. "I was guessing that with Lance's ability to steal a base and get into scoring position with one out, it might give me an opportunity to get a fastball. I guessed right."
The Cubs had 15 hits and eight walks, but they also hit into four double plays and stranded 12 runners. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez committed errors in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings.
"We squandered some opportunities, but we scored seven runs, which is ample enough to win," Piniella said. "Houston's playing well -- give them credit."
Houston scored four runs in the sixth to take a 7-3 lead.
Miguel Tejada tied the game at 3 with a two-run single off Zambrano, who didn't let on he wasn't feeling well. Bob Howry didn't have a lot of time before replacing Zambrano for the sixth and six batters later, he was booed off the field.
Hunter Pence started the carnage with a triple off the wall in center and David Newhan followed with a single. Humberto Quintero singled and Howry walked pinch-hitter Reggie Abercrombie. Michael Bourn hit a two-run single through a drawn-in infield, ending Howry's night, and the Astros scored one more on Tejada's double-play grounder.
Houston is 7½ games behind Milwaukee in the wild-card race.
"We're going to keep believing and we're going to keep fighting every day," said Pence, who went 4-for-6, falling a home run shy of the cycle.
Jim Edmonds snapped a 1-for-14 slump with a solo homer in the seventh to tie it at 7.
The Cubs had gone three games without an extra-base hit. Alfonso Soriano reversed that trend in the first with his fourth leadoff home run of the season, and the Cubs added three solo blasts and three doubles.
"We had a very good offense today," Soriano said. "I hope we come back with more energy tomorrow."
Backe gave up the three solo home runs in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits and walked two.
|What's the best part of Geoff Blum's go-ahead homer? Feeling the love back in the dugout. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Michael Bourn, CF||5||1||1||2||1||2||1||.221|
|Ty Wigginton, LF||4||0||0||0||2||2||1||.296|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||6||0||2||2||0||0||0||.283|
|Lance Berkman, 1B||5||1||0||0||1||1||4||.334|
|Geoff Blum, 3B||5||2||1||2||1||0||3||.239|
|Hunter Pence, RF||6||1||4||0||0||0||0||.270|
|David Newhan, 2B||5||1||2||2||0||1||3||.260|
|Wesley Wright, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Mark Loretta, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.265|
|Jose Valverde, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Humberto Quintero, C||5||2||2||0||1||1||2||.238|
|Brandon Backe, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.283|
|Fernando Nieve, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Reggie Abercrombie, PH||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.200|
|Tim Byrdak, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Chris Sampson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.136|
|c- Darin Erstad, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.286|
|Doug Brocail, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jose Castillo, 2B||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.239|
|a-struck out for Wright in the 11th|
|b-walked for Nieve in the 6th|
|c-grounded out for Sampson in the 7th|
|2B - Miguel Tejada (32, Zambrano), Hunter Pence (29, Zambrano), Humberto Quintero (5, Zambrano)|
|3B - Hunter Pence (4, Howry)|
|HR - Geoff Blum (14, Wood)|
|SH - Brandon Backe (5)|
|RBI - Michael Bourn 2 (24), Miguel Tejada 2 (57), Geoff Blum 2 (47), David Newhan 2 (8)|
|SB - Michael Bourn (35, 2nd base off Zambrano/Soto)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - Backe-Quintero-Berkman, Tejada-Newhan-Berkman, Tejada-Newhan-Berkman, Blum-Newhan-Berkman|
|Chris Sampson (H,10)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||4.10|
|Doug Brocail (BS,3)||2||1||1||1||3||1||1||4.38|
|Wesley Wright (W,4-3)||2||1||0||0||2||2||0||4.78|
|Jose Valverde (S,39)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||3.66|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Backe 91-60, Tim Byrdak 13-8, Chris Sampson 14-9, Doug Brocail 33-14, Wesley Wright 30-16, Jose Valverde 22-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Backe 5-4, Fernando Nieve 1-0, Chris Sampson 3-0, Doug Brocail 2-2, Wesley Wright 1-3|
|Batters Faced - Brandon Backe 22, Fernando Nieve 1, Tim Byrdak 3, Chris Sampson 4, Doug Brocail 9, Wesley Wright 9, Jose Valverde 4|
|Alfonso Soriano, LF||5||1||1||1||1||1||4||.287|
|Mike Fontenot, 2B||4||0||2||1||1||1||0||.295|
|a- Henry Blanco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.282|
|Ronny Cedeno, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.272|
|Derrek Lee, 1B||5||0||2||0||1||1||4||.292|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||5||0||1||0||1||1||2||.278|
|Mark DeRosa, RF||5||1||2||1||1||0||2||.292|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||3||2||1||1||1||0||1||.232|
|Carlos Marmol, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Casey McGehee, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Kerry Wood, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Daryle Ward, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.229|
|Geovany Soto, C||6||2||3||1||0||1||2||.294|
|Ryan Theriot, SS||4||1||2||2||1||1||1||.313|
|Carlos Zambrano, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.355|
|Bob Howry, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Michael Wuertz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Reed Johnson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.307|
|Angel Guzman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kosuke Fukudome, CF||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||.265|
|a-flied out for Fontenot in the 10th|
|b-struck out for Marmol in the 9th|
|c-flied out for Wood in the 11th|
|d-grounded out for Wuertz in the 6th|
|2B - Aramis Ramirez (37, Backe), Geovany Soto (32, Byrdak), Ryan Theriot (19, Byrdak)|
|HR - Alfonso Soriano (24, Backe), Mark DeRosa (19, Backe), Jim Edmonds (17, Brocail), Geovany Soto (21, Backe)|
|RBI - Alfonso Soriano (64), Mike Fontenot (34), Mark DeRosa (80), Jim Edmonds (50), Geovany Soto (80), Ryan Theriot 2 (36)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mike Fontenot (12), Jim Edmonds (15)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - Theriot-Fontenot-Lee|
|E - Aramis Ramirez 3 (16, Misplayed grounder)|
|Kerry Wood (L,4-3)||2||2||2||2||1||4||1||2.81|
|Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 86-55, Bob Howry 20-11, Michael Wuertz 10-4, Angel Guzman 15-7, Carlos Marmol 35-22, Kerry Wood 40-28|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 7-5, Michael Wuertz 2-0, Angel Guzman 2-1, Carlos Marmol 1-4, Kerry Wood 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 23, Bob Howry 5, Michael Wuertz 3, Angel Guzman 5, Carlos Marmol 7, Kerry Wood 10|
|Attendance - 39846|
|Game Time - 4:17|
|Temperature - 84|
|Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom|