Houston problem is power of Cubs
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 5:52 pm
By: By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Carlos Zambrano proved again that he is more than a power pitcher.
The right-handed pitcher extended a franchise record with his 22nd career homer and ran his winning streak to 10 games, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 9-5 victory Wednesday night and a series win over the Houston Astros.
Alfonso Soriano’s home run off Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) capped a five-run first inning for the Cubs. Zambrano’s homer — his sixth against the Astros — made it 6-0 in the sixth.
Zambrano (2-0) pitched five scoreless innings before the Astros jumped on him for five runs in the sixth.
Carlos Lee, Brett Wallace and Bill Hall each drove in a run in the inning before Matt Downs hit a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 6-5.
Chicago got three insurance runs on three hits off Wilton Lopez in the ninth.
Zambrano allowed seven hits and walked three in 52⁄3 innings to extend a winning streak that began last season.
Marcos Mateo, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol combined for pitch 31⁄3 scoreless innings to close it out.
Rodriguez allowed five runs — all in the first inning — and nine hits in five innings.
Jeff Baker drove in two runs with a double to right field in the first inning. Soriano’s two-out, three-run shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field made it 5-0.
Starlin Castro singled with one out in the ninth before stealing second base and scoring on a double by Darwin Barney.
Marlon Byrd reached and got to third base, and Barney scored on a throwing error by Lopez.
A single by Aramis Ramirez scored Byrd and chased Lopez.
Rodriguez gave up three straight singles in the third inning to load the bases. His defense helped him out by turning a double play, and he struck out Tyler Colvin to end the inning.
Rodriguez was replaced by Fernando Abad, who gave up the homer to Zambrano, to start the sixth inning.
Lee’s RBI single came after a walk by Michael Bourn and a single by Angel Sanchez to make it 6-1. Sanchez’s single came on a soft grounder down the third base line that Ramirez watched roll outside the foul line before bouncing back fair just as Sanchez reached first base.
Wallace pulled Houston to 6-2 with his run-scoring single to center field. Hall drove in a run on a forceout to make it 6-3 before the homer by Downs. Wallace was thrown out on that play when he started toward second, but stopped before Barney dropped Hall’s fly ball.
Downs homered before a walk by J.R. Towles chased Zambrano, who was replaced by Mateo.
NOTES: Chicago OF Kosuke Fukudome was out of the lineup for the third straight day after straining his hamstring making a catch on Sunday. He is listed as day-to-day and the Cubs are optimistic he will be able to play by Friday and won’t have to go on the disabled list. … Houston 3B Chris Johnson was out of the lineup after being hit in the arm with a pitch a day before. Johnson said his arm was sore and swollen but that he should be able to play on Thursday. … Several Astros, including Hunter Pence and Johnson along with manager Brad Mills, attended a lunch hosted by President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara on Wednesday. The former president chooses a handful of players and staff each season to attend the event.