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Houston at Chicago

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Houston (74-66) «0100200014100
Chi. Cubs (85-55)000000000061

Wolf zips slumping Cubs; Astros extend winning streak to eight

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Randy Wolf's first shutout in more than four years gave the Houston Astros another lift in their impressive late-season surge.

Wolf pitched a six-hitter Wednesday night and the Astros ran their latest winning streak to eight games with a 4-0 victory against the slumping Chicago Cubs, who've lost a season-high five in a row.

"It's really gratifying the fact that I've been through a lot the last three or four years -- two surgeries -- and it's been a long way back," said Wolf, who has had procedures on his elbow and shoulder since 2005.

"It makes it sweet to do it against such a good team and in Wrigley. It was exciting. I know it's been a long time. So it's nice."

Wolf (9-11) walked two and struck out eight, including Reed Johnson to end the fourth when they Cubs had two on. It was the 31-year-old left-hander's eighth career shutout and first since April 24, 2004, when he beat the Montreal Expos 7-0 while pitching for the Phillies.

Wolf needed 128 pitches to go the distance but was able to give the Astros' bullpen some rest.

"(Closer Jose) Valverde got on his knees before the game and did the sign of the cross four times begging for me to go nine," Wolf said.

Wolf got plenty of support Thursday night from Ty Wigginton, who continued his homer tear with his 22nd of the season and also made a great throw from left field to cut down the run. The victory gave Houston its second eight-game winning streak in less than a month, matching an earlier one from Aug. 7-14. And now the Astros have suddenly re-emerged in the NL wild-card picture.

"It gives us something to play for in September," Wolf said. "I know that we still have a ton of ground and some miracles for this to happen, but it's one of the reasons you don't give up."

The Cubs are stuck in their first five-game skid since dropping six in a row from May 27-June 2 last season. The NL Central leaders have 22 games left this season, 16 away from Wrigley Field.

"Basically they outplayed us," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "They outpitched us, outhit us. They just beat us. No excuses. ... You're going to have adversity along the way and we're having it right now. We'll see how we respond."

Despite the three game-sweep, the Cubs maintained their 4½-game lead against Milwaukee after the Brewers were beaten 9-2 by the Mets as New York completed a three-game sweep at Miller Park.

Wigginton, who hit 12 home runs in August, hit a two-run, two-out shot in the fifth off Ryan Dempster (15-6) to give the Astros a 3-0 lead.

The Cubs threatened in the bottom of the inning when Ronny Cedeno walked and went to second on a sacrifice.

When Alfonso Soriano singled sharply to left, Wigginton made a strong on-target throw to catcher Humberto Quintero, who reached back and nicked the back of a sliding Cedeno's jersey for the out. Astros center fielder Michael Bourn then made a nice catch of Ryan Theriot's long drive to center to end the inning.

"Soriano hit it hard and I got a great hop," Wigginton said. "That one ended up pretty easy just because the ball bounced up fairly high around my waist area. That made it easier to come through the ball and throw. Q did a great job of applying the tag."

The Astros made it 4-0 in the ninth when David Newhan and Bourn singled to put runners at the corners with two outs. Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija picked Bourn off first but when he was caught in a rundown, Newhan raced home. Cubs shortstop Theriot's throw to the plate was not handled by catcher Geovany Soto. Newhan was credited with a steal of home on the play and Theriot an error when Bourn made second.

Houston scored in the second with two outs on Hunter Pence's double, a walk and RBI single by Quintero.

Dempster went seven innings, giving up eight hits and the three runs. He vowed the Cubs would shake their slump.

"We're all right," Dempster said. "It's frustrating for everybody. You are going to go through bumps in the road and sometimes when they are late in the season ... they are magnified a little bit."

Notes

  • Houston's victory was its 74th. The Astros went 73-89 last year.
  • Dempster laid down two more sacrifice bunts and leads the majors with 18. He is now 12-3 at Wrigley Field.
 
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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With the shutout, the Astros are now 7-1 in Randy Wolf's starts since he joined them on July 22.  (AP)
With the shutout, the Astros are now 7-1 in Randy Wolf's starts since he joined them on July 22. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

T. Wigginton
AB 5
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Houston

R. Wolf
IP 9.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 2
K 8
 

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Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF4130100 .226
Ty Wigginton, LF5112014 .295
Miguel Tejada, SS4010001 .283
Lance Berkman, 1B3000100 .332
Geoff Blum, 3B4000032 .235
Hunter Pence, RF4120020 .272
David Newhan, 2B3110111 .263
Humberto Quintero, C4011011 .239
Randy Wolf, P4010013 .137
Totals35410339  
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (30, Dempster)
HR - Ty Wigginton (22, Dempster)
RBI - Ty Wigginton 2 (54), Humberto Quintero (10)
2-OUT RBI - Ty Wigginton 2 (20), Humberto Quintero (7)
SB - David Newhan (1, off Samardzija/Soto)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Ty Wigginton 1
DP - Tejada-Berkman
Houston Astros
Randy Wolf (W,9-11) 9600280 4.47
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wolf 128-93
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wolf 7-10
Batters Faced - Randy Wolf 33
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF4010001 .286
Ryan Theriot, SS4000012 .311
Derrek Lee, 1B3010120 .292
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000012 .276
Geovany Soto, C4010012 .294
Mark DeRosa, RF4010012 .291
Reed Johnson, CF3000023 .304
Ronny Cedeno, 2B2020100 .280
Ryan Dempster, P0000000 .151
   a- Casey McGehee, PH1000001 .000
    Neal Cotts, P0000000 .000
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
Totals2906028  
a-grounded into a double play for Dempster in the 7th
Batting
SH - Ryan Dempster 2 (18)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Theriot-Lee, Theriot-Lee
E - Ryan Theriot (14, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster (L,15-6) 7833371 2.99
Neal Cotts 1111020 4.11
Jeff Samardzija 1100000 1.23
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 110-74, Neal Cotts 19-13, Jeff Samardzija 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 8-4
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 30, Neal Cotts 4, Jeff Samardzija 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40163
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Tim Timmons, Second Base - Gary Cederstrom, Third Base - Field Culbreth