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Houston at Chicago

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Houston (73-66) «010024000029120
Chi. Cubs (85-54)100203100007153

Blum chops Wood in 11th for streaking Astros; Cubs' Zambrano hurt

CBSSports.com wire reports
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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."

Wesley Wright (4-3) went two scoreless innings and Jose Valverde worked the 11th for his 39th save, ending a game that took 4 hours, 17 minutes.

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.

The Cubs scratched back in the bottom of the sixth, cutting the Astros' lead to 7-6. Ryan Theriot hit a two-run double and scored from third on Mike Fontenot's single.

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.

Notes

  • Slumping Cubs OF Kosuke Fukudome didn't start Tuesday, but entered as a pinch-hitter, walking once and getting a hit. He won't play Wednesday against lefty Randy Wolf, but the left-handed hitter should be back in the starting lineup this weekend, Piniella said.
  • The Astros activated 2B Kaz Matsui from the 15-day DL, but he won't play until the weekend. Houston also brought up C J.R. Towles, RHP Alberto Arias and IF Edwin Maysonet.
  • Cubs RHP Angel Guzman pitched for the first time since June 1, 2007, after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • The Cubs set a club record, surpassing 3 million fans in 74 games, beating the previous record, set last year, by one game.
 
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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What's the best part of Geoff Blum's go-ahead homer? Feeling the love back in the dugout. (AP)
What's the best part of Geoff Blum's go-ahead homer? Feeling the love back in the dugout. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

G. Soto
AB 6
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Houston

G. Blum
AB 5
R 2
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF5112121 .221
Ty Wigginton, LF4000221 .296
Miguel Tejada, SS6022000 .283
Lance Berkman, 1B5100114 .334
Geoff Blum, 3B5212103 .239
Hunter Pence, RF6140000 .270
David Newhan, 2B5122013 .260
    Wesley Wright, P0000000 .000
   a- Mark Loretta, PH1000011 .265
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Humberto Quintero, C5220112 .238
Brandon Backe, P1000000 .283
    Fernando Nieve, P0000000 .000
   b- Reggie Abercrombie, PH0100100 .200
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .167
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .136
   c- Darin Erstad, PH1000002 .286
    Doug Brocail, P0000000 .000
    Jose Castillo, 2B1000011 .239
Totals45912879  
a-struck out for Wright in the 11th
b-walked for Nieve in the 6th
c-grounded out for Sampson in the 7th
Batting
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
Fielding
DP - Backe-Quintero-Berkman, Tejada-Newhan-Berkman, Tejada-Newhan-Berkman, Blum-Newhan-Berkman
Houston Astros
Brandon Backe 4.1933223 5.44
Fernando Nieve 0.2000000 14.73
Tim Byrdak0233100 4.35
Chris Sampson (H,10) 1100000 4.10
Doug Brocail (BS,3) 2111311 4.38
Wesley Wright (W,4-3) 2100220 4.78
Jose Valverde (S,39) 1100020 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
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5111114 .287
Mike Fontenot, 2B4021110 .295
   a- Henry Blanco, PH1000002 .282
    Ronny Cedeno, 2B0000000 .272
Derrek Lee, 1B5020114 .292
Aramis Ramirez, 3B5010112 .278
Mark DeRosa, RF5121102 .292
Jim Edmonds, CF3211101 .232
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
   b- Casey McGehee, PH1000011 .000
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
   c- Daryle Ward, PH1000001 .229
Geovany Soto, C6231012 .294
Ryan Theriot, SS4122111 .313
Carlos Zambrano, P2000001 .355
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
   d- Reed Johnson, PH1000001 .307
    Angel Guzman, P0000000 .000
    Kosuke Fukudome, CF1010100 .265
Totals44715787  
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
Batting
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
Fielding
DP - Theriot-Fontenot-Lee
E - Aramis Ramirez 3 (16, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano 5533330 3.58
Bob Howry0444100 5.63
Michael Wuertz 1000100 3.35
Angel Guzman 1100100 0.00
Carlos Marmol 2000020 2.58
Kerry Wood (L,4-3) 2222141 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
Game Information
Attendance - 39846
Game Time - 4:17
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom