CHICAGO -- Catcher Jason Castro put his battery-mate at ease early in the game.
Carlos Lee had a two-run double in a five-run first inning and Castro hit a three-run homer in the third to spot starter Wandy Rodriguez a big lead, and the Houston Astros beat the Chicago Cubs 11-5 on Monday night.
Rodriguez (7-11) gave up five runs in six innings but earned the win because the Astros had an 8-0 lead after three innings.
"When I hit it I didn't think it had a chance," said Castro. "In BP, the ball wasn't traveling too well but as the game went on the wind started picking up. It got out and it definitely gave us that cushion that took the pressure off a little bit and let us just play."
Hunter Pence had a two-run single in the first inning and Chris Johnson hit a two-run shot in the seventh for his first major league homer and finished a double short of the cycle.
Before the game, Astros manager Brad Mills shook up the order by moving Jeff Keppinger into the sixth spot. Keppinger responded by going 1 for 2 with three walks and scoring three runs.
"It's those guys out there. They swung the bats and the talent is there. It was going to come out at some point," Mills said. "Tonight it did."
Carlos Silva's slide after starting the season 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA continued. He was tagged for five runs on seven hits and two walks in one inning. In his last two starts, Silva (9-4) has allowed 11 runs over 2 1/3 innings.
"I'm still human," Silva said. "I think that's the way we have to look at it. These game are going to happen. Everything I was throwing it was hit."
Aramis Ramirez hit at two-run homer and Tyler Colvin added a solo shot in the sixth inning for the Cubs, who fell 10½ games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Cubs are 15-26 against NL Central opponents.
After winning three of four against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, the Astros pounded Cubs for a season-high 11 runs and 17 hits.
"The pitching today wasn't good," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
The 17 hits were most given up in a game by the Cubs this season.
Despite coming into the game with the third fewest runs in baseball this season, the Astros knocked Silva out after one inning. Silva allowed back-to-back singles to Michael Bourn and Angel Sanchez to start the game.
Piniella plans to talk to pitching coach Larry Rothschild about pushing back Silva so he can get extra work in the bullpen between his next start.
"Silva. I don't have an explanation. I'm going to talk to Larry about him tomorrow. He is not as sharp as he was earlier that's for sure," Piniella said. "We have a day off on Thursday. If he needs some little extra work in the bullpen we can do that. We're going to do what is best for the pitcher."
Silva, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in his last start at Los Angeles on July 11, stared down home plate umpire Tony Randazzo after not getting a called strike to Berkman. Silva ended up walking Berkman to load the bases then Pence followed with a two-run single.
"He struggled in that first inning. He threw 40-something pitches. he wasn't going to go much farther in that ballgame, believe me," Piniella said.
Lee doubled down the left-field line, scoring Pence from first. Lee scored on Johnson's double play grounder. The Astros sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning and they were 7 for 8 the first time through the lineup.
Silva had his shortest start since pitching 2/3 of an inning on May 30, 2008, vs. Detroit, while with Seattle.
The Astros added on in the third inning. Cubs reliever Mitch Atkins walked Keppinger and gave up a single to Johnson before Castro homered to right. It was his second of the season and gave Houston an 8-0 lead. It was the first home run by a Houston catcher that drove in at least three runs since Brad Ausmus hit a grand slam in Aug. 5, 2006, at Arizona.
Geovany Soto scored on Colvin's groundout in the third inning.
Derrek Lee doubled in the fourth inning and went to third on a wild pitch then scored on Ramirez's sacrifice fly.
Colvin led off the sixth with his 13th homer of the season. One out later, Lee doubled and Ramirez followed with a two-run homer to get to 8-5.
But Johnson gave the Astros a cushion with a liner to right for his first home run, a two-run shot in the seventh and had an RBI triple in the eighth.
"It's nice to see them get some good pitches to hit and look a little more confident at the plate. CJ (Johnson) in his first couple at-bats was struggling a bit and he came back. Sanchez really did a good job all night long," Mills sais.
The Astros will recall Wesley Wright from Triple-A Round Rock before Tuesday night's game against the Cubs. Wright is scheduled to make his first career start. Earlier in the season, Wright pitched out of the bullpen for Houston. He allowed six runs over 9 2/3 innings in six relief appearances without a decision. ... Castro ended the night with two errors at shortstop for the Cubs. ... Sanchez had hits. He has 17 career hits and his last multihit game was also a three hit game on Oct. 1, 2006, at Detroit while with the Royals.