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Chicago at Houston

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Chi. Cubs (54-70)0021000003110
Houston (40-84) «00220000x4100

Astros 4, Cubs 3

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Slogging through a terrible season, the Houston Astros will make no apologies for being excited about a two-game winning streak.

Matt Downs hit a go-ahead two-run single, Mark Melancon wriggled out of a jam in the ninth inning and the Astros beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Wednesday to take the series between the worst teams in NL Central.

Brian Bogusevic, who hit a game-winning grand slam for Houston on Tuesday night, had a two-run double in the third inning against Casey Coleman, who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to replace Carlos Zambrano in the rotation.

"It feels good," Bogusevic said. "We've been struggling the last couple weeks and to win two in a row and win a series is kind of a little boost for us."

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After a pair of exciting wins, the Astros were ready to play again on Thursday's off day.

"I told somebody we need to schedule a game tomorrow, because we're hot," Melancon said. "This is fun."

Bud Norris (6-8) allowed three runs and six hits in his first win since July 6. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 3.91 ERA in his previous four starts.

"He probably didn't have his best stuff, but he was able to work through it," Houston manager Brad Mills said.

Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Geovany Soto had a solo shot for the Cubs, who had won four straight series. Ramirez, Soto and Darwin Barney each had two hits.

Chicago went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

"We missed opportunities all day long," manager Mike Quade said. "Casey wasn't really sharp, but he kept us hanging around and the bullpen did another great job, but you just can't have that many opportunities go by and not take advantage of them. We had folks up and down the lineup with chances today. We just didn't get it done."

The Cubs' last shot came in the ninth, when Barney hit a leadoff single against Melancon and moved to third on Ramirez's perfectly placed grounder up the middle.

Melancon retired Carlos Pena on a popup before pinch-runner Tony Campana swiped second to put runners on second and third with one out. Soto then tapped to shortstop Clint Barmes, who threw to third to catch Barney in a rundown. Marlon Byrd grounded out to end the game, giving Melancon his 12th save.

"I felt like I got three saves out there, all in one -- the first little bloop in the infield and then the next two grounders," Melancon joked.

Coleman (2-5) allowed four runs and a career-high 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings while filling in for Zambrano, who was placed on the disqualified list Saturday following a meltdown in Atlanta last week when he talked about retirement and left the team.

"When you're in the fourth inning and you have that many hits, it puts you in a hole," Coleman said. "I need to show people that I can go out there and compete."

Ramirez extended his major league lead by hitting his 11th first-pitch home run of the season in the third, a drive to left-center that gave Chicago a 2-0 lead. It was his second consecutive game with a home run and the 40th of his career against the Astros.

Bogusevic's sharp grounder down the right-field line tied it, but Soto connected in the fourth to put the Cubs in front again.

The Astros responded in the bottom half. With two out and a runner on first, Jose Altuve singled, J.B. Shuck took third on a wild pitch and J.D. Martinez walked to load the bases.

Downs then singled to center to give Houston a 4-3 lead.

The Astros didn't get another hit after the fourth inning and Chicago's relievers retired 10 in a row after Jason Michaels walked with two outs in the fifth.

Chicago hit back-to-back two-out singles in the eighth inning, but Starlin Castro grounded out to end the scoring threat.

Norris hit Barney to start the fifth inning before loading the bases with consecutive walks to Ramirez and Pena. But the Cubs came away with nothing when Norris retired the next three batters, striking out two.

Notes

  • The Cubs optioned LHP Scott Maine to Iowa to make room for Coleman. Maine was recalled from Iowa on Monday, but did not make an appearance before being sent back to Triple-A.
  • Houston OF Jordan Schafer, on the disabled list since July 20 with an injured left middle finger, started a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday. If his rehabilitation goes well, he could join Houston on Monday in Colorado. Schafer was acquired from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade.
  • Both teams are off Thursday before Houston hosts the San Francisco Giants and the Cubs host the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Ramirez has 22 home runs and 63 RBI at Minute Maid Park, which rank first among opposing players.
 
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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Astros closer Mark Melancon celebrates working out of a jam to close the win against Cubs. (AP)
Astros closer Mark Melancon celebrates working out of a jam to close the win against Cubs. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

M. Downs
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Starlin Castro, SS5010004 .308
Darwin Barney, 2B4120001 .294
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4122110 .297
    Tony Campana, PR0000000 .282
Carlos Pena, 1B4000112 .225
Geovany Soto, C5121023 .238
Marlon Byrd, CF4010125 .301
Alfonso Soriano, LF4010005 .245
Tyler Colvin, RF4010014 .138
Casey Coleman, P2000002 .133
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   a- Jeff Baker, PH1000010 .287
    Ramon Ortiz, P0000000 .000
   b- Reed Johnson, PH1010000 .352
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
Totals38311338  
a-struck out for Grabow in the 6th
b-hit a bunt single for Ortiz in the 8th
Batting
HR - Aramis Ramirez (23, Norris), Geovany Soto (13, Norris)
RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (76), Geovany Soto (38)
2-OUT RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (26)
SB - Starlin Castro (13, 2nd base off Carpenter/Corporan), Darwin Barney (6, 2nd base off Norris/Corporan), Tony Campana (15, 2nd base off Melancon/Corporan)
Team LOB - 12
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Casey Coleman (L,2-5) 3.21044240 7.43
John Grabow 1.1000110 4.88
Ramon Ortiz 2000020 6.45
Jeff Samardzija 1000010 3.41
WP - Casey Coleman (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Casey Coleman 85-62, John Grabow 22-14, Ramon Ortiz 22-16, Jeff Samardzija 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Casey Coleman 3-4, John Grabow 1-2, Ramon Ortiz 2-2, Jeff Samardzija 1-1
Batters Faced - Casey Coleman 23, John Grabow 5, Ramon Ortiz 6, Jeff Samardzija 3
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
J.B. Shuck, CF-LF5120002 .258
Jose Altuve, 2B4210002 .314
J.D. Martinez, LF3110111 .258
    Fernando Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
    Mark Melancon, P0000000 .000
Matt Downs, 1B4022002 .255
Jimmy Paredes, 3B3010122 .296
Brian Bogusevic, RF4012003 .288
Clint Barmes, SS4010012 .254
Carlos Corporan, C4000031 .177
Bud Norris, P2010011 .119
   a- Jason Michaels, PH0000100 .197
    David Carpenter, P0000000 .000
    Sergio Escalona, P0000000 .000
    Jason Bourgeois, CF1000000 .298
Totals34410438  
a-walked for Norris in the 5th
Batting
2B - Brian Bogusevic (4, Coleman)
RBI - Matt Downs 2 (27), Brian Bogusevic 2 (10)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Downs 2 (9), Brian Bogusevic 2 (4)
Team LOB - 9
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Bud Norris (W,6-8) 5633352 3.61
David Carpenter (H,2) 1.1100010 3.38
Sergio Escalona (H,5) 0.1000000 2.92
Fernando Rodriguez (H,4) 1.1200020 2.52
Mark Melancon (S,12) 1200000 3.20
HBP - Barney (by Bud Norris)
Pitches-Strikes - Bud Norris 101-61, David Carpenter 24-15, Sergio Escalona 5-2, Fernando Rodriguez 22-15, Mark Melancon 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bud Norris 2-8, Sergio Escalona 1-0, Fernando Rodriguez 1-1, Mark Melancon 2-1
Batters Faced - Bud Norris 25, David Carpenter 5, Sergio Escalona 1, Fernando Rodriguez 6, Mark Melancon 5
Game Information
Attendance - 24054
Game Time - 3:09
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Brian O'Nora, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Al Porter