Chicago at Houston

Chi. Cubs
W: C. Zambrano (11-6) L: J. Happ (6-4)
HR: CHC - A. Ramirez (25)   HOU - None

Cubs 8, Astros 3 wire reports

HOUSTON -- In a season with more downs than ups, Carlos Zambrano was happy to end on a high note.

Zambrano pitched 6 1/3 solid innings and Aramis Ramirez hit his first grand slam in more than two years to lead the Chicago Cubs to an 8-3 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Zambrano's season will likely be remembered for his June dugout tantrum that led to his suspension and anger-management counseling. But Zambrano (11-6) wants to focus on finishing 8-0 in his 11 starts since returning to the rotation.

"I came back strong after the suspension and I did what I have to do to come back and be ready to finish the season the way I did," Zambrano said. "It was pretty nice to see every time I go to the mound it was the same Carlos Zambrano from two or three years ago, throwing six, seven, eight innings every time."

Marlon Byrd drove in three runs for the Cubs, who have won five of six. Chicago is 17-4 on the road since interim manager Mike Quade took over on Aug. 23.

Chicago was leading 4-0 before Ramirez's first slam since August 2008 stretched the lead and chased Astros starter J.A. Happ in the fourth.

Happ (6-4) allowed a season-high eight hits, tied season and career highs with seven earned runs and walked five in three-plus innings.

"We kept thinking that he was going to hit his stride," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "Finding that release point was difficult. In the past, in his real good starts, he's had a tough time doing that but then he hit his stride and continued to throw the ball well. Tonight that didn't happen."

Happ said he "just didn't have it" on Saturday night.

"It's kind of what you'd call a nightmare," he said. "It's tough to end the season on that one. I'm going to try not to let it take away from what I feel like I accomplished this season, but it definitely takes away a lot of hard work across the stat line."

Jeff Baker reached on a throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson in the fourth. Starlin Castro and Byrd hit consecutive singles to load the bases and set up Ramirez's slam. The shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field was the ninth grand slam of his career and his 20th home run at Minute Maid Park, the second-most in ballpark history.

The Astros had trouble getting anything going early in this one. Jason Castro singled with no outs in the third inning before Anderson Hernandez walked with one out. Angel Sanchez grounded into a double play to end that inning before Zambrano retired the next nine batters.

Zambrano said he's evolving as a pitcher as he gets older.

"I think I've found a formula to throw more sinkers instead of more velocity," he said. "Anytime I want to throw 93, 94 [mph] I can do it. Ninety-seven? I don't think so."

Houston didn't get another baserunner until Hunter Pence reached and advanced to second on an error by third baseman Bobby Scales with no outs in the seventh. Carlos Lee walked before Pence advanced to third on a wild pitch. Another walk loaded the bases before Johnson grounded into a force out that scored Pence.

That run broke a streak of 21 scoreless innings for the Astros, their longest drought since going 22 innings in 2006. It was the first run the Cubs allowed in 27 innings, the longest span for them since a 28-inning streak in June 2005.

Brett Wallace drove in a pair of runs with his double to center field that made it 8-3 later in the inning and chased Zambrano. The right-hander yielded three hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts.

"He was good," Quade said. "I feel terrible for [Scales] that we couldn't help [Zambrano] throw seven scoreless. But he pitched great again today. I'm not sure if that's the best movement I've seen from him, but I know Koyie [Hill] was scuffling to catch him a little bit."

Happ walked two Cubs with a single by Baker in between to load the bases with one out in the second inning. Byrd followed with a two-run single to push Chicago's lead to 4-0.

Baker drew a leadoff walk in the first before advancing to third on a ground-rule double by Castro. A sacrifice fly by Byrd made it 1-0. Happ walked Ramirez before Alfonso Soriano's two-out double scored Castro.


Houston left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will not make his scheduled start Sunday because of back spasms. Rodriguez began feeling discomfort in his back Thursday and he hadn't recovered by Saturday, so the Astros replaced him with right-hander Nelson Figueroa. ... Houston is 58-52 since June 1 after going 17-34 through May.

Copyright 2017 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.
Players of the Game

M. Byrd
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0

A. Ramirez
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1

Related Video

Chicago Cubs
Jeff Baker, 2B3310100 .272
   a- Darwin Barney, PH-2B1000010 .227
Starlin Castro, SS3220110 .300
Marlon Byrd, CF5123011 .295
Aramis Ramirez, 3B3114103 .242
    Bobby Scales, 3B1010000 .333
Xavier Nady, 1B5010016 .252
Alfonso Soriano, LF4021111 .256
Micah Hoffpauir, RF5010015 .173
Koyie Hill, C4010111 .217
Carlos Zambrano, P3100112 .231
    James Russell, P0000000 .000
    Justin Berg, P0000000 .000
    Scott Maine, P0000000 .000
   b- Brad Snyder, PH1000013 .217
    Marcos Mateo, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Baker in the 8th
b-struck out for Maine in the 9th
2B - Starlin Castro (31, Happ), Alfonso Soriano (40, Happ), Koyie Hill (13, Happ)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (25, Happ)
RBI - Marlon Byrd 3 (66), Aramis Ramirez 4 (83), Alfonso Soriano (79)
2-OUT RBI - Alfonso Soriano (35)
Team LOB - 10
DP - Castro-Baker-Nady
E - Bobby Scales (3, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,11-6) 6.1332350 3.33
James Russell 0.2000000 4.96
Justin Berg 0.2000010 5.18
Scott Maine 0.1000000 2.08
Marcos Mateo 1000000 5.91
HBP - Downs (by James Russell), Lee (by Justin Berg)
WP - Carlos Zambrano (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 92-59, James Russell 10-6, Justin Berg 14-9, Scott Maine 2-2, Marcos Mateo 12-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 10-4, James Russell 1-1, Justin Berg 1-0, Marcos Mateo 2-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 25, James Russell 3, Justin Berg 3, Scott Maine 1, Marcos Mateo 3
Houston Astros
Anderson Hernandez, 2B3000102 .220
Angel Sanchez, SS3000011 .277
    Felipe Paulino, P0000000 .292
   a- Jason Bourgeois, PH-CF1000000 .220
Hunter Pence, RF4100010 .284
Carlos Lee, LF2000100 .244
Brian Bogusevic, CF2100110 .208
   b- Jeff Keppinger, PH1000001 .288
    Matt Lindstrom, P0000000 .000
Chris Johnson, 3B4111010 .309
Brett Wallace, 1B4012011 .221
Jason Castro, C2010000 .205
   c- Jason Michaels, PH1000001 .254
    Humberto Quintero, C1000000 .234
J.A. Happ, P0000000 .000
    Henry Villar, P0000000 .000
    Jeff Fulchino, P0000000 .000
   d- Matt Downs, PH-SS1000010 .216
a-grounded out for Paulino in the 8th
b-fouled out for Bogusevic in the 8th
c-flied out for Castro in the 7th
d-struck out for Fulchino in the 6th
2B - Brett Wallace (6, Zambrano)
SH - J.A. Happ (3)
RBI - Chris Johnson (52), Brett Wallace 2 (13)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Sanchez-Wallace, Wallace
E - Chris Johnson (18, Throwing)
Houston Astros
J.A. Happ (L,6-4) 3887531 3.40
Henry Villar 2100000 4.50
Jeff Fulchino 1000010 5.51
Felipe Paulino 2100040 5.11
Matt Lindstrom 1200110 4.39
HBP - Castro (by Jeff Fulchino)
WP - Matt Lindstrom (8)
Pitches-Strikes - J.A. Happ 89-52, Henry Villar 19-14, Jeff Fulchino 17-11, Felipe Paulino 28-21, Matt Lindstrom 21-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J.A. Happ 4-2, Henry Villar 2-3, Jeff Fulchino 1-1, Felipe Paulino 1-1, Matt Lindstrom 1-1
Batters Faced - J.A. Happ 22, Henry Villar 6, Jeff Fulchino 4, Felipe Paulino 7, Matt Lindstrom 6
Game Information
Attendance - 36098
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Lance Barrett, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - David Rackley