Cubs Say Good-Bye to Houston with a Win – Cubs 5, Astros 1

Game One Hundred Forty-Three – Cubs 5, Astros 1
WP – Travis Wood (6-11) LP – Fernando Abad (0-4) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs ended their 10-game, three-city road trip on a positive note with a win in the rubber game with the Astros. The Cubs won what was likely their final series in Houston (2-1) for a couple years behind a strong outing from Travis Wood and a big night from Alfonso Soriano.

Alfonso Soriano (3-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and a walk) led the way at the plate and in the field. Soriano hit his 29th homer of the season in the fifth and singled in the Cubs’ third run in the seventh (29 home runs and 96 RBI on the year for Soriano). Soriano doubled with one-out in the ninth then left the game for Tony Campana. Campana stole third and scored the Cubs’ fifth and final run on a throwing error by Chris Snyder. Soriano also turned in the defensive play of the game.

With the Cubs up 2-0 and a runner on first with no outs in the fifth, Alfonso Soriano made a tremendous leaping catch at the wall then doubled off Justin Maxwell from first base.

Travis Wood picked up his second win in a row after not allowing a hit for the first four innings. Wood found a rhythm early, worked quickly and kept the Astros’ off the board for the first 7 2/3 innings of his outing. Wood did not allow a runner to reach second until two outs in the eighth … and the only run he was charged with scored after he left the game. Wood allowed one run on four this with a walk and six strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Wood threw 108 pitches, 71 for strikes.

Shawn Camp wiggled his way out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and Carlos Marmol struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth.

Dave Sappelt (3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a walk) had another good night at the plate. Sappelt recorded his fourth double in three games in sixth inning. Welington Castillo (1-for-5 with a RBI) plated Darwin Barney with a two-out single in the first inning. Anthony Recker (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) doubled in Sappelt with the Cubs’ fourth run in the eighth inning.

The Cubs scored five runs on 11 hits, four for extra bases, with four walks against seven Astros’ pitchers. The Cubs were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 on base on Wednesday night.

Darwin Barney (1-for-5 with a run scored) did not commit an error for the 128th straight ballgame.

Astros’ reliever Mickey Storey was hit in the side of the face with a comebacker off the bat of Dave Sappelt in the eighth inning. Sappelt hit a rocket back up the middle that appeared to hit Storey in his jaw. Storey left the field on his own power, with a little help from the Astros’ staff. During the bottom of the eighth, the Astros announced that Storey was okay and had a contusion on both the right side of his face (jaw) and on his hand.

After dropping the first four games against the Nationals to start the trip, Dale Sveum’s team won five of six and finished the trip with a .500 record (5-5). With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs finished a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with a 9-11 record and improved to 56-87 on the season …

Joe Mather started Wednesday night’s game by flying out to left (1-1 pitch). Darwin Barney blooped a 1-1 offering from Fernando Abad into right center. Starlin Castro grounded out to second but Barney advanced to second with two down. A 1-2 pitch to Soriano ended up in the dirt. Barney took third on the wild pitch and held when Alfonso Soriano worked a two-out free pass.

Welington Castillo broke his bat but drove Abad’s first pitch into right. Barney scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Soriano held at second. Josh Vitters struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Fernando Abad needed 21 pitches, 12 for strikes, to complete the first inning.

Travis Wood retired the side in order in the first inning. Wood threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes.

Dave Sappelt walked to start the second. Anthony Recker popped a 2-0 pitch to Jed Lowrie for the first out. For some reason Travis Wood was swinging away … and struck out swinging (0-2 pitch) for the second out. Mather flied out to center to end the inning … 35 pitches for Abad after two innings, 19 for strikes.

Travis Wood set down the Astros in order in the second. Wood needed 25 pitches, 18 for strikes, in the first two innings.

Darwin Barney flied out to right center on a 3-2 pitch to start the third. Starlin Castro walked on four pitches. Abad continued having problems with his command and fell behind Soriano. Alfonso Soriano hit a mile-high pop up (3-2 pitch) into medium depth right center for the second out. Welington Castillo grounded out to short on Abad’s 58th pitch of the game, 30 for strikes, to end the inning.

Travis Wood ended up facing the minimum in the third after issuing a leadoff walk to Chris Snyder. Brandon Barnes struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Fernando Abad could not get a bunt down and grounded into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play. Wood threw 43 pitches, 28 for strikes, over the first three innings.

Josh Vitters led off the fourth with a single to center. Dave Sappelt followed and pulled a 0-1 pitch into left center. Vitters lumbered around second and advanced to third. Sappelt took second on the throw and the Cubs had runners on second and third with no outs.

Anthony Recker popped a 1-1 pitch into medium-depth left field. J.D. Martinez put himself into excellent position to catch the ball and make a strong throw to the plate. Vitters bluffed but did not tag. Martinez airmailed his throw but Abad was backing up the play and Vitters could not advance.

Astros’ interim manager Tony DeFrancesco decided that was enough for Fernando Abad and went to his pen for Chuckie Fick with runners on second and third, one down and Travis Wood due to hit. Fick struck out Wood and Joe Mather swinging to end the inning. After four at bats, the Cubs were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base.

Travis Wood retired the side in order in the fourth … 51 pitches for Wood after four, 33 for strikes.

After four complete, the Cubs led 1-0.

Darwin Barney grounded out to second (3-2 pitch) for the first out in the fifth. Castro looked at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Alfonso Soriano looked at three straight out of the zone then got just enough of a 3-2 pitch. Soriano drove the ball into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Soriano’s 29th homer of the season gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Castillo grounded out to Lowrie at short to end the inning.

Justin Maxwell led off the fifth with the Astros’ first hit, a single to left on a 3-2 pitch. Matt Dominguez drove a 1-1 pitch to deep left. Alfonso Soriano made an excellent leaping catch at the wall. Soriano ranged back and slammed into the wall as he caught the ball. Maxwell had rounded second; no one thought Soriano would catch the ball. Soriano’s throw back to the infield sailed over Castro’s head. Darwin Barney was alertly backing up the play and threw to first to double off Justin Maxwell (7-4-3 double play). Brandon Laird popped a 1-0 pitch to Castro for the third out. Wood needed 62 pitches, 39 for strikes, to complete five innings of work.

Enerio Del Rosario took over for the Astros in the sixth. Josh Vitters struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch. Dave Sappelt drove a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner. Sappelt ended up at second with his fourth double in three games. Anthony Recker and Travis Wood grounded out to third to end the inning.

Chris Snyder popped out to Barney to begin the sixth. Brandon Barnes lashed Wood’s first pitch into center for a single. Matt Downs hit for Del Rosario and was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Jose Altuve tried to bunt his way on but Wood threw him out at first to end the inning.

After six complete, the Cubs led 2-0.

David DeJesus hit for Joe Mather to start the seventh. DeJesus pulled a 1-2 pitch from Fernando Rodriguez into right field. DeJesus took off for second on a 1-1 pitch to Barney. Darwin Barney chopped the ball back up the middle. Rodriguez fielded the ball, bobbled and stumbled off the mound. Barney reached on the error and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs.

Starlin Castro hit a weak grounder toward second. Altuve waited back on the ball then shoveled to Lowrie covering second. Barney went in hard and Lowrie could not make a throw to first. With runners on first and third with one out, Alfonso Soriano bounced the first pitch over the third base bag. DeJesus scored as the ball hit off the side wall. Castro raced around second and advanced to third but J.D. Martinez threw toward second and cut down Soriano for the second out … replays showed that Soriano got his hand in before Altuve applied the tag. Castillo grounded a 1-0 pitch to Lowrie for the third out.

Travis Wood made quick work of Jed Lowrie to start the seventh. Lowrie flied out to right on Wood’s first pitch. J.D. Martinez drove Wood’s first pitch into left for a single, the Astros’ third hit of the night. Justin Maxwell flied out to right and Matt Dominguez popped out to Barney (3-2 pitch) to end the inning … 87 pitches for Wood after seven, 56 for strikes.

Mickey Storey started the eighth for the Astros. Luis Valbuena hit for Josh Vitters and flied out to center. Dave Sappelt hammered a 1-1 pitch back up the middle of the field. The ball hit off the side of Storey’s face. Storey went down to a knee as the Astros’ medical staff hurried out to the mound. Storey was checked out then walked off the field under his own power with help from the Astros’ staff.

Jose Valdez replaced Storey and Anthony Recker greeted him with a double to right center (1-1 pitch). Dave Sappelt scored and the Cubs took a 4-0 lead. Travis Wood made his way to the plate for the fourth time on the night … and struck out swinging. David DeJesus worked a walk to put runners on first and second with two down but Barney grounded out to second to end the inning.

Travis Wood started the eighth and retired Brandon Laird (grounded out to second) and Chris Snyder (called out on strikes). Wood could not put away Brandon Barnes. Barnes ripped the tenth pitch of the at bat (1-2 count) off the scoreboard in left. Barnes ended up at second with a double … the first Astro to reach second base against Wood on the night. As soon as Tyler Greene was announced as the pinch-hitter, Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in Shawn Camp. Tony DeFrancesco countered with lefty Fernando Martinez. Martinez ripped a 1-0 pitch into right. Barnes scored, 4-1 Cubs.

Jose Altuve pulled a 1-2 pitch to the hole at short. Starlin Castro fielded the ball and made a strong, accurate throw to first. Altuve beat the throw. Camp walked Jed Lowrie (3-2 pitch) to load the bases for J.D. Martinez.

Shawn Camp threw five straight sliders to J.D. Martinez and struck out the Astros’ left fielder swinging to end the inning.

After eight innings, the Cubs led 4-1.

Rhiner Cruz took over in the ninth and became the seventh different pitcher used by Tony DeFrancesco on Wednesday night. Starlin Castro flied out to left for the first out. Alfonso Soriano drove a 1-2 pitch off the wall in right center and ended up at second with a double. Sveum sent Tony Campana into run for Soriano. Campana took off for third on a 1-1 pitch to Welington Castillo. Chris Snyder airmailed his throw to third. Campana got to his feet quickly and raced home with the Cubs’ fifth run. Castillo fouled out to Laird (first base) for the second out. Luis Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth with a 5-1 lead.

Carlos Marmol issued a leadoff walk to Justin Maxwell then missed with his first two offerings to pinch-hitter Scott Moore. Marmol evened the count then struck out Moore swinging for the first out. Brian Bogusevic hit for Brandon Laird and looked at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Jason Castro hit for Snyder and with Maxwell at second (defensive indifference) Marmol caught Castro looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the game … Marmol struck out the side on 20 pitches, 11 for strikes.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

After playing 20 games in 20 days, the Cubs are off on Thursday … their next to last off day of the season. The Cubs open a four-game, wrap around series with the Pirates on Friday afternoon at Wrigley. Chris Rusin is scheduled to face James McDonald in the opener.

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