CHICAGO (AP)—Kosuke Fukudome has endeared himself to Cubs fans with some early season clutch hitting.
Fukudome hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning that sent the Wrigley faithful into frenzy, Derrek Lee was 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs and the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 9-7 Saturday.
“When the fans in the stands get up and cheer it feels really good and it does give (me) a little charge and little more of a boost,” Fukudome said through a translator.
Fukudome, the team’s main offseason acquisition from Japan, is 8-for-16 with five RBIs. On opening day, he went 3-for-3, hitting a tying, three-run homer in the ninth in a 4-3 loss to the Brewers in extra-innings.
“Oh man, that’s a good looking ballplayer right there. (He’s) Doing everything for us, getting huge hits, having great at-bats. I get the luxury from watching it from the best seat in the house,” said Mark DeRosa, who bats behind Fukudome in the order. “He’s doing it all right now.”
Trailing 5-2 in the sixth inning, Derrek Lee doubled to right and moved to third when Fukudome bunted safely for a hit. Lee came around to score on a passed ball by Astros catcher Brad Ausmus.
Ryan Theriot was walked by Oswalt leading off the seventh inning and pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot reached on an infield single. They moved up on Alfonso Soriano’s groundout. Theriot scored on Reed Johnson’s groundout, then Lee drove in Fontenot with his fourth hit of the game to tie the game at five chasing Oswalt.
“He’s a good hitter. I always have problems with him. Lately it seems like he knows what’s coming and it’s more embarrassing than anything,” Oswalt said of Derrek Lee.
Astros reliever Oscar Villarreal walked Aramis Ramirez and Astros manager Cecil Cooper went with left-hander Wesley Wright to face Fukudome. Fukudome worked the count to 3-2, then hit a line-drive double past left fielder Carlos Lee, scoring Derrek Lee and Ramirez.
“He really has an approach that is impressive since he’s never seen these pitchers. He is really looking for his pitch and when he gets it he’s doing something with it. He’s a professional hitter, he really knows what he is doing,” Lee said.
DeRosa added an RBI double to give the Cubs an 8-5 lead.
In his second start of the season, Oswalt (0-2) allowed six runs—five earned—on 10 hits and couldn’t hold onto a 5-2 lead.
“Got to like your chances when you have Roy Oswalt pitching, but they kept fighting and that seventh inning fell apart on us,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said.
Cubs reliever Bob Howry gave up a single to Darin Erstad and a double to Carlos Lee in the eighth inning. Erstad scored on Miguel Tejada’s ground out and pinch-hitter Geoff Blum drove in Carlos Lee to cut the score to 8-7.
Johnson hit an RBI single in the ninth to make it 9-7.
In the sixth inning, Erstad, playing in the place of Lance Berkman who left the game with neck spasms, hit an RBI double to right-center. Carlos Lee followed with another double to the warning track in right-center off Cubs starter Jason Marquis giving the Astros a 5-2 lead.
Marquis was shaky in his first start of the season. He pitched 5 1-3 innings and allowed five runs—four earned—eight hits. He struck out two and allowed one walk.
Hart earned his first career win. … The Astros 3B Ty Wigginton left in the seventh with a bruised left thumb. Wigginton was taken for precautionary X-rays. … Soriano is in a 1-for-22 slump.