Chicago at Houston

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Chi. Cubs (29-27)010000000170
Houston (26-31) «000000101250

Blum's bases-loaded single in bottom of ninth lifts Astros over Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Geoff Blum was relieved to see Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano depart.

Blum got a pitch to hit against Angel Guzman in the bottom of the ninth and delivered the game-winning hit to lift the Astros to a 2-1 victory against the Cubs.

Guzman replaced Zambrano after he threw dominant eight innings, and Miguel Tejada led off the ninth with a single.

"The sooner [Zambrano] leaves, the better we're going to be," Blum said.

Hunter Pence walked, and Carlos Lee flew out to center, with Tejada tagging to third with a head-first slide.

Guzman (2-1) intentionally walked Lance Berkman to load the bases and Blum lined a 1-2 pitch up the middle, bringing home Tejada.

"With Miggy at third, he can run a little bit, so I knew I didn't have to absolutely annihilate a ball to the warning track to score," said Blum, who drove in Houston's other run with a groundout. "He left a ball right out over the [strike] zone and I was able to get on top of it."

Chicago wasted an excellent start by Zambrano, who allowed a run on three hits. He threw 104 pitches.

The Cubs got seven hits and has scored three runs or fewer in seven of their last 11 games.

"When we start hitting consistently, we'll start winning consistently," manager Lou Piniella said. "When you can hold a team on the road to two runs, you've got to feel pretty good about your chances."

Chris Sampson (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Wandy Rodriguez for Houston.

Geovany Soto hit a solo home run in the second inning for the Cubs, who dropped to 5-2 at Minute Maid Park this season.

Zambrano, who no-hit the Astros last Sept. 14, breezed through the Houston lineup again on Wednesday.

He retired 14 in a row before Michael Bourn walked with two outs in the sixth. Tejada, who came in with a .467 career average against Zambrano, then lined out to Aaron Miles at second base.

"I did my job," Zambrano said. "There's nothing else I could do."

The Cubs got five hits through five innings off Rodriguez, but left five men on base.

Rodriguez struck out two Cubs in the sixth, then fanned Zambrano to end the seventh. The 30-year-old left-hander hadn't lasted seven innings since his last victory, against Milwaukee on May 20.

Rodriguez lost his previous three starts and a few Astros suggested to pitching coach Dewey Robinson that he was tipping his pitches with subtle movements of his glove. Rodriguez said he saw nothing on videotape to indicate he was doing that, and said the only thing he changed from his past few starts was his location.

"When I make my pitches inside or outside and my breaking ball, you can see a lot of games like that," Rodriguez said. "I used my corners, inside and outside, that was the change."

Pence walked leading off the Houston seventh and went to third on Lee's single. Lee came in with a .347 lifetime average against Zambrano.

Pence scored on Blum's groundout to tie the game.

"I was just fortunate enough to get the bat on a split-finger [fastball] and get it in a position where it wouldn't turn into a double play," Blum said.

Sampson relieved Rodriguez for the eighth. Rodriguez threw 116 pitches, a season high. Sampson gave up two singles, but struck out pinch-hitter Kosuke Fukudome to end the inning.

The Cubs dropped to 25-5 when leading after six innings and 20-8 when they score first this season.

Notes

  • Houston manager Cecil Cooper rearranged his pitching rotation to give RHP Roy Oswalt extra time to recover from minor soreness in his right wrist. RHP Russ Ortiz (3-2) will start the series finale Thursday, replacing LHP Mike Hampton (4-4), who will now pitch Friday in Arizona. Oswalt (2-3) also moves back a day and will pitch against Arizona on Saturday.
  • The Astros outrighted the contract of right-handed reliever Geoff Geary to Triple-A Round Rock. Geary has three days to accept the assignment or become a free agent.
  • The Cubs activated Miles from the disabled list (shoulder strain) before the game and optioned Jake Fox to Triple-A Iowa.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Geoff Blum (right) is mobbed by his teammates after knocking in the winning run in the ninth. (AP)
Geoff Blum (right) is mobbed by his teammates after knocking in the winning run in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

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

G. Blum
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 

Related Video

Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF3000110 .237
Ryan Theriot, SS4020001 .288
Milton Bradley, RF4010002 .209
Derrek Lee, 1B4010022 .269
Reed Johnson, CF3000010 .275
   a- Kosuke Fukudome, PH-CF1000012 .294
Geovany Soto, C3111110 .221
Bobby Scales, 3B3010001 .232
   b- Mike Fontenot, PH-3B1000000 .247
Aaron Miles, 2B4010001 .206
Carlos Zambrano, P3000022 .233
    Angel Guzman, P0000000 .000
Totals3317128  
a-struck out for Johnson in the 8th
b-flied out for Scales in the 9th
Batting
HR - Geovany Soto (3, Rodriguez)
RBI - Geovany Soto (15)
2-OUT RBI - Geovany Soto (9)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Zambrano-Theriot-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano 8311230 3.39
Angel Guzman (L,2-1) 0.1211200 2.57
IBB - Berkman by Angel Guzman
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 104-64, Angel Guzman 18-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 11-9
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 28, Angel Guzman 5
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF3010110 .293
Miguel Tejada, SS4110002 .355
Hunter Pence, RF2100200 .337
Carlos Lee, LF4020001 .318
Lance Berkman, 1B3000103 .247
Geoff Blum, 3B4012001 .264
Matt Kata, 2B3000012 .000
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .000
Humberto Quintero, C3000000 .302
Wandy Rodriguez, P2000010 .040
    Jeff Keppinger, 2B1000000 .265
Totals2925243  
Batting
RBI - Geoff Blum 2 (17)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Blum-Kata-Berkman
Houston Astros
Wandy Rodriguez 7511261 2.82
Chris Sampson (W,3-0) 2200020 1.70
Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 116-70, Chris Sampson 28-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 5-9, Chris Sampson 1-3
Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 27, Chris Sampson 8
Game Information
Attendance - 29840
Game Time - 2:24
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Paul Schrieber, First Base - Ed Rapuano, Second Base - Joe West, Third Base - Paul Nauert