Chicago (66-56) at Houston (61-61)

Thunder Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 22, 2004
  • TV: WGN, KNWS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Chicago Cubs starter Kerry Wood has had a long layoff since turning in one of his best outings of the season.

He’ll look to pick up where he left off as the Cubs conclude their three-game series with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Wood allowed just four hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win over Los Angeles on Aug. 14. The outing was his longest without allowing a run this season.

However, Major League Baseball announced Monday that Wood’s five-game suspension for arguing with umpire Eric Cooper in the ninth inning of a game on April 17 would not be reduced. The right-hander started serving the suspension on Tuesday and was forced to miss his scheduled start on Friday.

“I’m just glad (the suspension) didn’t come this morning on the way to the ballpark,” Wood said on Aug. 14, as he awaited a decision.

Wood said that he was disappointed that his suspension wasn’t reduced, especially since he didn’t make any contact with Cooper.

“I’ve seen a lot worse get a lot less,” Wood said. “By no means am I saying what I did is all right or acceptable. I said my peace with the umpire the next day. I spoke with Eric by phone and I apologized to him. It definitely could’ve been handled a different way.”

Wood struck out seven batters in his last outing, bouncing back from his Aug. 8 start in which he failed to record a strikeout for the first time in his career. He also hit his fourth career homer.

“He did everything today,” Cubs shortstop Nomar Garciaparra said. “He grabbed the ball and said, ‘I’m going to do it from both sides.”’

Wood will need to be sharp again on Sunday, as he goes up against Houston’s Roy Oswalt. Oswalt won his fifth straight decision on Tuesday, allowing just five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Pitching on five days’ rest, I was trying to throw too hard,” Oswalt said. “I was all over the place. After the third inning, I got in a rhythm.”

The Astros got ninth-inning RBI singles from Jose Vizcaino and Jason Lane Saturday to beat the Cubs 4-3. Jeff Kent went 2-for-3 for Houston, which has won five of its last six.

Michael Barrett went 2-for-4 with a triple for the Cubs, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Wood ChC vs. R. Oswalt Col
8-9 Record 20-10
3.72 ERA 3.49
144 K 206
51 BB 62
1.27 WHIP 1.24