CHICAGO -- Both bullpens were spent, runs were scarce and the Houston Astros had trouble making a quick getaway Wednesday. That's OK. They'll take it. Their 12-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs made it all worth it.
"It did take a while," manager Brad Mills said after the 4-3 victory. "We kept battling. In a game like this our bullpen was on fumes."
Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels delivered a two-out, two-run double in the 12th and scored on Angel Sanchez's single, giving the Astros a 4-1 lead. They needed all of it after Geovany Soto hit a two-run homer off Gustavo Chacin in the bottom half.
The Astros took two of three in the series at Wrigley Field, bouncing back after Tuesday's difficult 14-7 loss that featured 13 unanswered runs by the Cubs and a three-homer night by Chicago slugger Aramis Ramirez.
"To get that series win feels great," Michaels said. "Two outs, second and third, I was just trying to have a good at-bat and get myself in position. ... I got lucky and found the gap."
Jeff Keppinger and Chris Johnson started the 12th with consecutive singles. After Jason Castro forced Keppinger at third with a bunt back to Bob Howry (1-3), James Russell relieved and Michael Bourn's grounder moved the runners to second and third.
Michaels greeted Jeff Stevens, the seventh Chicago reliever, with a drive into the alley in left-center.
Chicago threatened in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th but couldn't get the big hit, leaving 16 runners on base for the game.
"We scored 14 last night," manager Lou Piniella said the day after he announced his retirement at the end of the season. "If we would have got all the guys we left on [base] today, we would have scored 14 today. We just didn't get them in."
The Cubs had second and third in the 11th before Brandon Lyon (6-4) got Derrek Lee to fly out. Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the 10th on a double by Starlin Castro and two walks before Lyon struck out Kosuke Fukudome and retired pinch-hitter Soto on a fly to left.
"I made a bad pitch to Pedro Feliz. I feel it cost us the game," Lilly said.
After the teams combined for 37 runs in the first two games of the series, the finale was a contrast for most of the day with a light wind blowing in at Wrigley Field as Lilly and Brett Myers locked up in a pitchers' duel.
Myers allowed five hits in seven innings, including Lilly's single in the fifth that snapped the pitcher's skid at 0 for 33 dating to last season. Lilly then motored all the way from first to score on Starlin Castro's two-out double to left.
Lilly, the subject of trade speculation, yielded seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, including two singles by Myers.
"I don't know," Lilly said when asked if expected to be around for the rest of the season. "There is a lot of speculation and rumors that are thrown out there. From my experience, they don't necessarily mean something is going to happen."
- Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell said he appreciates having his name mentioned as a possible successor for Piniella, adding it's too early to talk about that with more than two months left in the season. Trammell managed Detroit from 2003-05 and compiled a 186-300 record, including a 119-loss season in his first year. "Losing 119 games and you're almost part of baseball history in a negative way that certainly tests you in a lot of ways," Trammell said. Trammell, a star shortstop for the Tigers who also works with Cubs infielders, said he does want to continue to be involved in the game, whether it be coaching or managing.
- Astros ace Roy Oswalt, also rumored to be moving at or before the trade deadline, said after the game his preference would be to join a team that has a chance to be in the playoffs. "I'm just going to wait until they come to me and ask me what they have for a deal and what they are thinking about," he said. "Wait for my options and go from there."