Houston (2-5) at Chicago (3-4)

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  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Tue Apr 10, 2007
  • TV: FSSW, CSN
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Jason Marquis hasn’t had a lot of success at Wrigley Field in the past. The Chicago Cubs hope pitching for the home team can change that.

Marquis makes his home debut with his new club Tuesday as the Cubs continue a three-game series with the Houston Astros.

The right-hander, who signed a three-year, $20 million contract with Chicago (3-4) in the offseason, is just 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts at Wrigley. The one win came last season during a miserable second half for the former Cardinal, who went 3-10 with a 6.72 ERA in 15 outings after the All-Star break.

He finished 14-16 to lead the National League in losses, and his 6.02 ERA was a career worst.

Marquis (0-0, 1.50 ERA) did well in his first outing with the Cubs, though, allowing one run and four hits in six innings against the Reds on Thursday. He left the game with a 2-1 lead, but didn’t receive a decision as Chicago went on to lose 5-2.

“When his ball is sinking, he throws a lot of ground balls,” manager Lou Piniella said on the team’s official Web site. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Marquis is 7-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 19 games - 14 starts - against the Astros (2-5), who beat the Cubs 5-3 on Monday. Adam Everett hit a two-run homer off Chicago reliever Bob Howry in the eighth inning after Alfonso Soriano tied the game in the seventh.

The victory was the second in three games for the Astros after opening the season with four consecutive defeats.

Everett’s homer was the 34th of his career, a new record for a Houston shortstop.

“It’s a nice honor,” said Everett, who has gotten one base hit in all six games he’s played this season. “Hopefully I can make the margin a little greater. But any time you’re the leader in anything in club history it’s pretty amazing.”

Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save after Astros manager Phil Garner named the right-hander his new closer, replacing Brad Lidge. Lidge, who saved 103 games for Houston over the last three seasons but has yielded six runs in his first two appearances of 2007, will now pitch in middle relief.

The loss spoiled the home opener for Chicago, which committed more than $300 million in the offseason on free agents and players already on the roster.

“The loss. That was the worst part,” Piniella said. “I mean, what are you going to do? We just lost it. We got beat. … Let’s hope we don’t have any more opening days this year, we’re 0-2 already.”

Soriano’s club-record $136 million, eight-year deal made up nearly half of the winter payout. The center fielder has a hit in each of the team’s seven games and stole his first base of the season Monday.

The Astros will hand the ball to Chris Sampson (0-0, 0.00), who pitched three innings of scoreless relief on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sampson made his first major league start on June 7, 2006, against the Cubs at Houston. He pitched seven three-hit innings in the Astros’ 1-0 victory.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Sampson MIA vs. J. Marquis CIN
7-8 Record 12-9
4.59 ERA 4.60
51 K 109
30 BB 76
1.38 WHIP 1.39

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Apr 10