Zame Old Ztory – Cubs 1 Astros 3

Game Fifty-Four – Cubs 1 Astros 3
WP – Felipe Paulino (1-7) LP – Carlos Zambrano (1-4) Save – Matt Lindstrom (12)

The Cubs reached the 1/3 mark of the 2010 season Friday night … and lost their fourth game in a row. Lou Piniella’s crew slipped to six games under .500 due to another pathetic performance by the offense.

Lou Piniella ran out the same lineup and he received the same results. The Cubs scored one run on five hits, left six on base and finished the game 1-for-6 with RISP … two through five in the Cubs lineup was 1-for-15. Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez had chances to drive in runs once again.

Marlon Byrd and Starlin Castro was the Cubs’ offense. Byrd singled, doubled and drove in the Cubs’ only run out of the lead off spot. Byrd singled in Starlin Castro and tied the game at one in the fifth.

Starlin Castro was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs. Not only did he avoid an injury in the fifth but the youngest player on the Cubs’ roster also put together the best at bats of the night. Castro worked one of the Cubs two walks (the other, an intentional walk to Derrek Lee in the third) of the night … and scored the only run.

Carlos Zambrano’s return to the rotation was a shaky one at best. Zambrano was horrible in the first and labored through a 34-pitch inning. Zambrano gave up a run in the first but settled down and found a little rhythm. Zambrano left in the fifth after giving up the tying run. Michael Bourn singled, stole second and scored on a single to center by Jeff Keppinger.

Tom Gorzelanny replaced Zambrano and gave up a double to Lance Berkman on his first pitch. Keppinger scored easily and closed the book on Big Z … three runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Zambrano threw 84 pitches, 47 for strikes … not exactly the stuff that aces are made of.

Andrew Cashner made his second appearance Friday night in front of a lot of family and friends. Cashner gave up a single to Lance Berkman and struck out Carlos Lee, his first big league strikeout, in an inning of work. Cashner threw the ball very well and hit the mid to upper 90s with his fastball and mid to upper 80s with his change up. Cashner and Castro were two positives on a night the Cubs looked beat before Zambrano threw his first pitch.

The Astros defeated the Cubs for the third time in four match-ups this season … and the Cubs handed Felipe Paulino his first win of the year.

The Cubs’ fourth loss in a row matches a season-low and Lou Piniella’s crew is 0-3 with six games left on what was deemed an important road trip. The Cubs will enter play Saturday night with a 24-30 record, six games under .500 … It was obvious in the first inning that it was going to be a short night for Carlos Zambrano. Big Z was the Zambrano of the last two seasons. He struggled with his command and if not for a base running blunder by Lance Berkman, Z might not have made it out of the first.

Michael Bourn led off with a single to center after Zambrano got ahead in the count 1-2. Bourn advanced to second on a hit and run ground out to third by Jeff Keppinger … on a 3-1 pitch. Lance Berkman singled to left. Bourn scored easily but Berkman tried to advance to second. Berkman got caught in a rundown … 7-4-3-4-1 for the second out.

Carlos Lee doubled to right and Zambrano walked Cory Sullivan on five pitches. Geoff Blum walked on five pitches to load the bases. Pedro Feliz popped out to right on Z’s 34th pitch. He threw only 15 strikes in the first.

Starlin Castro led off the third with a walk. Zambrano tried to sacrifice him to second but bunted the ball too hard back to Paulino. Castro was nailed at second but Zambrano beat out the throw to first. Marlon Byrd then doubled to right. The ball skipped into the stands, a ground rule double but the Cubs had runners on second and third with one out.

Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch and popped out to right.

The Astros intentionally walked Derrek Lee to load the bases for Aramis Ramirez. Aramis showed patience worked the count to 3-1 but reached for a ball out of the strike zone and fouled out to Lance Berkman to end the inning … Berkman reached over the railing and made a fine catch, but Ramirez should not have swung at the pitch. It was ball four.

The Cubs finally tied the game in the fifth. After another good at bat, Castro singled to center. Zambrano got the bunt down and advanced Castro but he did not stop at second. Castro rounded the bag and took off for third. Keppinger was sleeping a little, plus no one was at third, and threw low to Humberto Quintero as he ran up the line to cover third.

Castro slid head first and hit his left shoulder on Quintero’s shin guard. Castro appeared hurt and held his shoulder as Quintero lay on top of him. Castro stayed in the game and scored on Byrd’s double to left.

Ryan Theriot swung at the first pitch, again, and popped out to second, again, with a runner in scoring position. Derrek Lee struck out to end the inning.

After the Cubs scored their one run, the Astros went back to work in the bottom of the fifth and put the game away.

Michael Bourn reached on a one-out single to right center. Bourn stole second on a 2-2 pitch to Keppinger then scored on Keppinger’s single to center … 2-1 Astros.

Lou made the slow walk and brought in Tom Gorzelanny.

Lance Berkman ripped Gorzelanny’s first pitch over Soriano’s head in left. Soriano misplayed the ball and Keppinger scored all the way from first … 3-1 Astros.

Carlos Lee was intentionally walked then Gorzelanny issued a four-pitch walk to Hunter Pence (pinch hitting for Sullivan) to load the bases. Gorzelanny struck out Geoff Blum swinging.

Jeff Stevens replaced Gorzelanny and threw one pitch to Pedro Feliz. Feliz hit a chopper to third, Ramirez stepped on the bag … inning over. But the damage was done.

Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless seventh.

Carlos Marmol took over for Bobby Howry in the eighth and kept the Astros from tacking on. Marmol retired both batters he faced, one strikeout, and stranded Feliz at third.

Where was Tyler Colvin Friday night? Why is Chad Tracy in Iowa again?

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster will face Roy Oswalt Saturday night …