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Sweeney, Cubs pound Astros

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum gets annoyed when the Chicago Cubs put runners on base, then fail to get them home.

The Cubs manager had no complaints Sunday.

Chicago pounded out 16 hits on the way to a 14-6 victory over the Houston Astros in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won two of three.

Center fielder Ryan Sweeney did the most damage Sunday, going 3-for-5 with a homer and a career-high six RBIs as Chicago scored early and often.

"Sweeney had a huge day, those at-bats he had off the left-handers were the key to breaking the game open and keep the innings going," Sveum said.

Sweeney has stepped into the starting center field role of late.

"I haven't been able to play every day for the past couple of years, so I've always been looking for the opportunity to be an everyday player again," he said. "It's definitely tough to come in when you only play once a week and pinch-hit."

Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-3 with a homer, four RBIs and four runs. Nate Schierholtz, Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney also had multiple-hit days.

Right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-7) had one rocky inning among his seven. He gave up four runs (three earned) and nine hits while striking out five and walking none.

"I felt pretty good with all my pitches today, I got through the lineup the first time with low pitch counts and got a bunch of runs from the guys," Samardzija said. "In that situation, you probably don't need all your stuff. Just pound the zone and get them back into the dugout."

Astros right hander Jordan Lyles (4-2) allowed eight runs (five earned) on 10 hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three. Houston also made two errors.

"Sometimes you don't catch breaks," Lyles said. "(But) "I've got to do a better job of pitching out of jams and making quality pitches."

The Cubs led 1-0 in the second after Rizzo doubled to lead off and reached third on Marc Krauss' throwing error. Sweeney grounded to second to drive Rizzo home.

Chicago scored four runs and batted around in the third. The Cubs loaded the bases after Samardzija led off with a single and advanced to third when Luis Valbuena reached on an error.

Schierholtz's single up the middle scored Samardzija and Valbuena for a 3-0 lead and deposited Starlin Castro -- who had walked -- on third.

Rizzo's sacrifice fly to center drove in Castro for the game's fourth run. Sweeney made it 5-0 with a two-out double to left that scored Schierholtz.

The Astros got three runs back in the fourth, but the Cubs responded with three in the fifth. Chicago had a four-run rally in the seventh and added two more in the eighth.

Chris Carter led Houston's offense, going 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Jason Castro had three hits, and Marwin Gonzalez went 2-for-4.

"We didn't play fundamentally sound baseball," Houston manager Bo Porter. "When you don't catch the ball, you increase the other team's chances of scoring runs. Give the Cubs credit, they took advantage of our miscues and were able to put up a lot of quicker numbers."

The Cubs have Monday off before opening a three-game series at Milwaukee. Right hander Edwin Jackson (3-9) goes against the Brewers' Kyle Lohse (2-6).

The Astros also resume Tuesday as left-hander Erik Bedard (2-3) duels St. Louis Cardinals righty Jake Westbrook (3-2) at Minute Maid Park in the opener of a nine-game homestand.

NOTES: The Astros may be struggling in the cellar in their inaugural American League season, but Houston's minor league teams had a collective 183-139 (.568) record through Saturday, second best among all major league organizations. Texas was tops at 187-140 (.572). ... Houston SS Ronny Cedeno struck out as a pinch hitter, leaving him with .317 average (13-for-41) in day games this season. ... Astros LHP Wesley Wright had not allowed a run in eight day-game appearances (8 1/3 innings) before yielding two runs in the eighth inning Sunday. ... The Cubs have hit 52 home runs at Wrigley Field, the top total in the majors. Chicago has hit 27 home runs on the road, tied for fourth fewest in the majors. ... Chicago RHP Scott Feldman, scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Milwaukee, needs three strikeouts to hit the 500 milestone. ... The Cubs are 8-3 against the American League with nine interleague games yet to play. ... Soriano remains two homers shy of tying Albert Belle for 63rd on baseball's all-time homer list. Belle hit 381.
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