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Houston at Chicago

Scoreboard
Houston (33-66)0101000002100
Chi. Cubs (40-60) «00004000x490

Cubs 4, Astros 2

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez shows no signs of cooling off just as Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up.

Ramirez and Soriano both hit fifth-inning homers and the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 4-2 on Friday.

Ramirez's 18th homer, a two-run shot, capped Chicago's four-run rally in the inning. He leads the majors with 13 homers since June 24.

"We were down 2-0 in that inning," Ramirez said. "It was a big inning for us. I'm glad I came through.

"Anytime you get men on base you should capitalize it, you should score some runs."

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Soriano started the inning with his 15th of the season -- first since June 19.

"I hadn't homered in a month, so it was good for me and good for the team because we got the win," Soriano said. "I just feel like I was thinking too much."

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (7-5) won for just the second time since May 26 and improved to 16-8 against Houston, the most wins against the Astros by an active pitcher.

Zambrano went six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs. He struck out three and walked one. It was Zambrano's first win since he returned from a DL stint caused by lower back tightness.

"I feel 100 percent," Zambrano said. "My sinker was good. Nothing was bothering me. I'm back on track."

The Cubs snapped Houston's five-game winning streak at Wrigley Field, beating the Astros at home for the first time in four games this season.

Houston's Bud Norris (5-7) took the loss in his first career start at Wrigley Field. He gave up nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and striking out five.

"I didn't execute that pitch to Ramirez," Norris said. "Trying to get a fastball up and in, definitely left it out and over, and that's what a good hitter does to it."

Michael Bourn had three hits and two stolen bases.

Five Cubs relievers combined to throw three scoreless innings.

"It's easy to manage when everybody comes in and does their job," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

Sean Marshall pitched a perfect ninth for his third save. Carlos Marmol, the Cubs' closer for most of the season, struck out the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning. After his sharp outing, Marmol is now slated to close again.

"Marmol was sharp," Quade said. "Maybe he's ready to finish up a game [Saturday], hopefully. He's a closer, and he pitched like it."

Marmol said he is ready to return to ninth-inning duty.

"I thought [Quade] was going to put me in today," Marmol said, laughing. "He's the boss, he can do whatever he wants to do. I'm ready whenever.

"I feel very good right now. I'm getting my confidence back."

The Astros failed to capitalize on some early opportunities and stranded eight runners.

"We weren't able to capitalize," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We had 10 hits, but it seemed like they didn't come quite when we would have liked if we had our choice."

The Astros loaded the bases with nobody out in the second on Carlos Lee's walk and back-to-back singles by Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson.

Zambrano fell behind Clint Barmes 3-0, but induced a double-play grounder, scoring Lee to make it 1-0. Zambrano escaped further damage by getting Humberto Quintero to ground out.

The Astros again loaded the bases with no outs in the third. Norris and Bourn singled and Zambrano hit Jose Altuve in the shoulder with a pitch.

Zambrano fell behind Hunter Pence 3-0, but Pence lined sharply to shallow left. Lee flied out, leaving the bases loaded for Wallace, who was also retired on a fly ball.

"I got lucky on the pitch to Pence," Zambrano said. "He hit it hard but right at Soriano."

The Cubs also struggled early. Soriano led off the third with a double into the left-field corner. With one out, he was caught in a rundown on a comebacker hit by Zambrano. Chicago also squandered Ramirez's leadoff double in the fourth.

Houston went ahead 2-0 in the fourth when Bourn singled home Barmes.

Soriano cut it to 2-1 with a leadoff homer in the fourth. Chicago tied it when Darwin Barney singled, went to second on Zambrano's bunt hit, stole third and scored on Starlin Castro's sacrifice fly.

Ramirez then hit a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers, putting the Cubs up 4-2. The inning was kept alive by Zambrano's drag bunt, which skipped past Norris toward second baseman Altuve.

A crowd of 39,855 showed up at Wrigley Field for the matchup between the teams with the National League's worst records.

Notes

  • Houston activated OF Jason Bourgeois from the 15-day disabled list and optioned OF Brian Bogusevic to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Bourgeois was on the DL since June 29 because of a strained right quad. Bourgeois struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
  • Henry Sosa, acquired by the Astros from San Francisco for infielder Jeff Keppinger on Tuesday, threw seven shutout innings in his debut with Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday night.
  • Quade will wait to for this weekend series to unfold before naming a starting pitcher for Tuesday at Milwaukee. Rodrigo Lopez, who has three straight quality starts, is the likely choice.
  • Ramirez hit his 231st homer with the Cubs, tying Gabby Hartnett for sixth on the club's career list.
  • The Cubs snapped a nine-game streak with at least one error, their longest since June 4-13, 1987. The Cubs have 87 errors, 15 more than the Astros, who have the second-most in the NL.
 
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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Carlos Zambrano -- who wins for the second time since May -- congratulates Aramis Ramirez on his fifth-inning homer. (AP)
Carlos Zambrano -- who wins for the second time since May -- congratulates Aramis Ramirez on his fifth-inning homer. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Houston

M. Bourn
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF5031010 .298
Jose Altuve, 2B3010013 .250
Hunter Pence, RF4000015 .312
Carlos Lee, LF-1B3100114 .272
Brett Wallace, 1B3010013 .281
   a- Jason Bourgeois, PH-LF1000010 .350
Chris Johnson, 3B4020010 .249
Clint Barmes, SS4110011 .253
Humberto Quintero, C3010012 .261
   b- Angel Sanchez, PH1000000 .249
Bud Norris, P2010001 .118
    Sergio Escalona, P0000000 .000
    Fernando Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
   c- Jason Michaels, PH1000000 .213
Totals34210119  
a-struck out for Wallace in the 8th
b-lined out for Quintero in the 9th
c-grounded out for F. Rodriguez in the 9th
Batting
SH - Bud Norris (10)
RBI - Michael Bourn (32)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Bourn (18)
SB - Michael Bourn 2 (37, 2nd base off Zambrano/Soto, 2nd base off Samardzija/Soto)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Johnson-Altuve-Wallace
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Bud Norris (L,5-7) 6.1944052 3.70
Sergio Escalona0000100 2.45
Fernando Rodriguez 1.2000010 2.31
HBP - Byrd (by Fernando Rodriguez)
Pitches-Strikes - Bud Norris 92-61, Sergio Escalona 5-1, Fernando Rodriguez 20-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bud Norris 5-8, Fernando Rodriguez 1-3
Batters Faced - Bud Norris 27, Sergio Escalona 1, Fernando Rodriguez 6
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Kosuke Fukudome, RF3020102 .270
Starlin Castro, SS3001005 .301
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4122012 .304
Carlos Pena, 1B4000031 .224
Marlon Byrd, CF3000001 .299
Geovany Soto, C4000022 .234
Alfonso Soriano, LF4121001 .253
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .000
Darwin Barney, 2B3110001 .300
Carlos Zambrano, P2110000 .314
    James Russell, P0000000 .125
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
   a- Blake DeWitt, PH1010000 .265
    Tony Campana, PR0000000 .259
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
    Reed Johnson, LF0000000 .336
Totals3149416  
a-singled for Samardzija in the 7th
Batting
2B - Aramis Ramirez (26, Norris), Alfonso Soriano (14, Norris)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (18, Norris), Alfonso Soriano (15, Norris)
SF - Starlin Castro (3)
RBI - Starlin Castro (43), Aramis Ramirez 2 (60), Alfonso Soriano (42)
2-OUT RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (18)
SB - Darwin Barney (5, 3rd base off Norris/Quintero)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Ramirez-Barney-Pena, Castro-Pena
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Carlos Zambrano (W,7-5) 6922130 4.70
James Russell0100000 4.18
Jeff Samardzija (H,5) 1000020 3.27
John Grabow (H,5) 0.1000010 5.31
Carlos Marmol (H,2) 0.2000020 3.65
Sean Marshall (S,3) 1000010 3.11
HBP - Altuve (by Carlos Zambrano)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 101-63, James Russell 2-2, Jeff Samardzija 15-9, John Grabow 3-3, Carlos Marmol 9-7, Sean Marshall 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 6-7, Sean Marshall 1-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 27, James Russell 1, Jeff Samardzija 3, John Grabow 1, Carlos Marmol 2, Sean Marshall 3
Game Information
Attendance - 39855
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Mark Ripperger, First Base - C.B. Bucknor, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Jerry Meals