Game Fifty-Six – Cubs 3 Astros 6
WP – Brett Myers (4-3) LP – Randy Wells (3-4) Save – Matt Lindstrom (13)
Saturday night became a distant memory Sunday as the Cubs offense could not build on a solid performance against Roy Oswalt. Brett Myers shut down Lou Piniella’s offense again while Randy Wells put his team in an early hole.
Randy Wells was horrible in the first inning once again … the third time in his last seven starts Wells has struggled in the first inning. Wells gave up three runs on five straight hits to start the game. And if not for a good throw by Kosuke Fukudome and a gift call from third base umpire Chad Fairchild, it would have been worse.
Lance Berkman drove in the Astros’ first run again and Carlos Lee gave Houston a 3-0 lead with a line drive homer into the Crawford Boxes.
To his credit Randy Wells settled down after the first and retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced. But the Astros plated three more in the sixth and put the game away.
A misplayed ball off the bat of Hunter Pence by Aramis Ramirez opened the floodgates in the sixth … and changed the course of the game. After an intentional walk to Geoff Blum, Pedro Feliz singled in a pair and chased Randy Wells from the game.
Randy Wells, who has not won a game since April 30, left after six runs on nine hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
Andrew Cashner was dominant once again in relief of Wells. Cashner hit the upper 90s on his fastball, consistently in the mid 90s with a mid 80s changeup, and retired all five he faced in 1 2/3 innings.
The Cubs out hit the Astros but not when it counted. The offense pounded out 12 hits (Astros, 9) but managed only three runs and finished the game 3-for-11 with RISP and left eight on base. Starlin Castro, Koyie Hill and Xavier Nady drove in the Cubs runs … Hill and Nady’s came with two outs.
Derrek Lee (1-for-4), Aramis Ramirez (0-for-3 with a walk) and Tyler Colvin (1-for-5) were a combined 2-for-12 with a walk and left nine on base.
Lou Piniella’s crew is 1-4 on what was deemed a huge nine-game road trip. With the loss, the Cubs are 2-4 against Houston (3-11 versus the Pirates and Astros) this season and will enter play Monday morning six games under .500 … With the consistent lack of production from the offense, Sunday’s game was over 15 minutes after the first pitch. Brett Myers sat the Cubs down with relative ease to start the game. The Astros then ended the contest in the home half.
Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single to third on Randy Wells’ first pitch. Jeff Keppinger followed with a single to right. With runners on first and third, Lance Berkman singled to left on a 3-2 pitch. Bourn scored easily but Kosuke Fukudome threw out Keppinger at third … replays showed the Cubs’ caught a break.
Carlos Lee stepped in and lined a 1-0 offering from Wells over the wall in left … 3-0 Astros.
Hunter Pence recorded the Astros’ fifth straight hit off of Wells. But Geoff Blum popped out to Starlin Castro, the first batter Wells retired, and Pedro Feliz grounded out to third to end the inning.
The damage was done and the Cubs were not able to bounce back.
Marlon Byrd led off the second with an infield single to the hole at short. Aramis Ramirez walked on the ninth pitch of the at bat but Mike Fontenot flied out to center on a 3-1 pitch. Byrd tagged and advanced to third on the productive out.
Starlin Castro hit Myers’ first pitch to center, Byrd tagged and scored the Cubs first run.
Koyie Hill struck out to end the second.
Marlon Byrd jump-started the Cubs’ offense again in the fourth. Byrd led off with a double to left center. Aramis Ramirez lined out to left. Mike Fontenot then singled to center on Myers’ first pitch. Byrd held at third with one out.
Starlin Castro worked the count to 2-2 but swung and missed a high fastball for the second out … it was ball three.
Koyie Hill delivered another two-out hit … a double to right. Byrd scored easily but Mike Fontenot was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. It was the right call by Mike Quade with Randy Wells due up. Hunter Pence made a good throw to Jeff Keppinger who cut down Fontenot at the plate.
Randy Wells had found a groove at that point. After the first inning, he retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced leading into the sixth.
Jeff Keppinger led off the sixth with the Astros first hit since the opening inning. Lance Berkman ripped a single into right on Wells’ first offering. Carlos Lee lined out to Mike Fontenot.
Hunter Pence hit a 1-1 pitch from Wells to third that ate up Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez tried to play the ball to his side. The ball skipped past him and ended up in left. Keppinger scored and both runners advanced when Colvin threw to the plate.
Wells intentionally walked Geoff Blum to load the bases with one out. Down 4-2 with the bases loaded, Wells stayed in the game and gave up a single to Pedro Feliz on the first pitch of the at bat. Berkman and Pence scored … 6-2 Astros.
The Cubs put a pair on in the seventh with two outs but Colvin grounded out to second to end the inning.
Derrek Lee led off the eighth with his first hit of the game. After Byrd’s swinging bunt advanced Lee to second, Ramirez flied out to right and advanced Lee to third. Xavier Nady hit for Andrew Cashner and singled to center … 6-3 Astros. Starlin Castro flied out to right on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Bobby Howry kept the Astros from tacking on in the eighth.
Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome reached on back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth. Tyler Colvin swung at Matt Lindstrom’s first pitch and hit into a 6-3 game-ending double play.
Monday is a new day … but Lou Piniella’s crew must start playing better baseball and soon.
Carlos Silva faces Dana Eveland and the ‘Mighty Pirates’ Monday morning in the make-up game from last Wednesday.