After losing a ninth inning lead against the Padres Thursday night the Astros traveled to Chicago for a matinee against the Cubs. The game was delayed nearly an hour by rain, giving weary Astros players a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Unfortunately, they didn’t wake up. Instead, the Astros sleep-walked through nine innings against Paul Maholm and the last-place Cubbies.
In what seems to be a recurring theme of late, the offense was practically non-existent. Houston managed only two hits against Maholm through the first eight innings. The journeyman lefty ran into some trouble in the ninth, allowing a couple of hits and eventually giving way to Carlos Marmol out of the bullpen. Marmol plunked Chris Snyder with a pitch to load the bases before Chris Johnson lined out to end the game.
Final score: Cubs 4 Astros 0
It was the seventh time the Astros have been shut out this season.
Bud Norris came off the disabled list to make the start. Norris was not as effective as usual, fanning only one batter in six innings of work. Norris was also victimized by the longball. All four of the Cubs runs scored on homers. It wasn’t just the homers that bother me, but who hit them. Light-hitting Luis Valbuena got the Cubs on the board with a solo blast in the second. Steve Clevenger hammered a two-run shot in the fourth, his first ever in the big leagues. (Deja vu from last night’s grand slam by Alexi Amarista off closer Brett Myers)
The Astros continue to struggle on the road but hope to right the ship tomorrow. J.A. Happ will be on the mound and is coming off good starts in his last two outings. The Cubs have had trouble with left-handed pitchers, so there is still hope for Houston to salvage the series. Wandy Rodriguez, another lefty, will pitch Sunday for the Astros.