Astros 5, Cubs 3
CHICAGO (AP)—Even with a little extra work, the Houston Astros bullpen was as dominant as ever.
Five relievers combined to shut out Chicago over six innings, and pinch-hitter Michael Lamb lined a late go-ahead double to lead Houston over the Cubs 5-3 Tuesday night.
Dan Miceli (2-2) and Mike Gallo both got out of a bases-loaded jams without surrendering a run as the bullpen combined to strike out eight and walk two. Miceli pitched two hitless innings, Brad Lidge pitched the eighth and Octavio Dotel earned his eighth save.
“When you have the bases loaded twice, nobody out and you get out of it without a run, that just tells you how well we pitched,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said. “Everybody contributed. They made pitches.”
They also got a big break on a Cubs blunder in the eighth.
With two outs and the score 3-3, Brad Ausmus hit a weak grounder to second base that looked like it would end the inning. But Todd Walker’s throw sailed wide of first baseman Derrek Lee, pulling him off the bag to put runners on first and second.
Lamb then lined an RBI double into left-center off Kyle Farnsworth (0-3) for the go-ahead run.
“We had one of those games where it could have gone on for a while,” Craig Biggio said. “That was a great piece of hitting by Lamb.”
The 6-foot-5 Lee said it shouldn’t have gotten that far.
Lee said he was certain his foot was on the bag for Walker’s throw, adding that umpire Mike Fichter didn’t get a good look at the call.
“He was out. (Fichter) said I came off the base. I didn’t think I did,” Lee said. “I think he had a bad angle. He was over on the other side.”
Biggio was hit by a pitch leading off the game and scored on Jeff Bagwell’s ninth homer. It was the ninth time this season that Biggio has been hit by a pitch—second best in the majors.
Hollandsworth homered in the second, but Jeff Kent made it 3-1 in the third with a deep shot to left that Moises Alou didn’t even turn to watch as it sailed onto Waveland Avenue.
Kent extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest of his career and the best in Houston since Lance Berkman hit safely in 18 consecutive games last year.
The Astros bullpen has been dependable most of the season, even though Dotel has blown two of 10 save chances and lost three games already. Houston relievers had allowed a major league-low 13 percent of inherited runners to score entering the game.
They were outstanding against the Cubs.
Chicago came up empty with the bases loaded in the fourth and again in the sixth inning.
In the fourth, Gallo relieved starter Brandon Duckworth and struck out Corey Patterson on four pitches. He got out of the jam when Ramon Martinez tried to check his swing but couldn’t, sending a dribbler to the mound for an easy double play.
“That was huge to come in with the bases loaded, nobody out and keep them from scoring any runs. That was the difference in the ballgame,” Lamb said.
Duckworth allowed three runs and four hits in three-plus innings. He was pulled after throwing just 48 pitches.
Chicago had the bases full again in the sixth when Miceli forced Lee to pop out to short right before striking out Patterson and Martinez.
Patterson stranded six runners and was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. After striking out with the bases loaded for a second time, Patterson walked slowly to the dugout and was greeted by loud boos.
“It looked like we didn’t want to be overanxious with two strikes, then they’d paralyze us with fastballs away,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “Whatelse can I say? I wish we would have scored some more runs.”
Bagwell moved into a tie with Frank Thomas for 32nd on the career homer list with 428, three shy of Cal Ripken. … Chicago’s 10-game homestand is its the longest of the season. … No timetable was given for the return of starter Andy Pettitte, who was placed on the DL Monday with a left forearm strain. … Adam Everett laid down his major league-leading 15th sacrifice bunt in the first. … Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano turned 23 on Tuesday. … Gallo has notallowed a run in 17 of 19 outings this season.