Kerry Wood has quite a performance to follow.
One night after watching Carlos Zambrano flirt with a no-hitter, Wood will make his first start since Memorial Day when the resurgent Chicago Cubs continue their three-game series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
Wood (1-1, 4.50 ERA) helped end a six-game losing streak the last time he took the mound, and Chicago has played some of its best baseball of the season since.
The Cubs (23-33) have won five of their last seven after losing 21 of 25.
Wood is pitching on seven days rest after his original scheduled start against St. Louis on Sunday was pushed back due to stiffness in his surgically-repaired right shoulder. He has made only three starts since being activated on May 18.
He allowed two runs and five hits over six innings in a 7-3 victory on May 29 over Cincinnati, but needed more time to recover.
“I bumped the intensity up a little bit my last start, and I just didn’t recover as good as I have been,” he said. “It kind of comes with the shoulder surgery. There are good days and bad days, and you take advantage of the extra days.”
Wood has allowed five runs in 11 innings, while striking out seven and walking six in his last two starts.
The Dallas-area native is 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 16 games against the Astros, and is 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA in eight games at Minute Maid Park.
Wandy Rodriguez (6-3, 4.81) looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season when he opposes Wood.
Rodriguez allowed the first seven batters to reach base and was pulled after giving up eight runs, six hits and five walks in 1 1-3 innings in a 14-3 loss to Cincinnati on Friday.
The left-hander has lost two of his last three decisions, allowing 19 runs— 13 earned—16 hits and 10 walks in five innings in the losses. Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA in four career starts against Chicago.
In Chicago’s 8-0 win in the series opener on Monday, Zambrano pitched no-hit ball for 7 1-3 innings and added a three-run homer.
“This was like a high school game for him,” Cubs center fielder Juan Pierre said. “He was the best pitcher and hitter on the field tonight.”
Shortstop Ronny Cedeno is hitting .432 (16-for-37) during his career-high 10-game hitting streak.
Houston (27-31) center fielder Preston Wilson broke up Zambrano’s no-hit bid, but the Astros have been outscored 39-15 during a five-game losing streak.
“I’m thinking we’re getting ready to break out of it,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “I just knew that we were going to get a hit tonight and put four or five runs on the board. I keep looking for that one thing that’s going to happen. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen soon.”