As has been the case in recent games the Astros pitching was good today, but the hitting… not so much. J.A. Happ kept the Cubs off the scoreboard through the first four innings and the Astros staked him to a slim 2-0 lead. Timely hitting was apparently not part of the plan for the Astros, but poor baserunning was. They wasted several scoring opportunities early in the game, hitting into three double-plays in the first five innings.
The Cubs scored three runs in the third inning – taking advantage of a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a longball. Starlin Castro drove in the Cubs first run of the inning with a nice piece of hitting. With two outs Castro laced an outside pitch down the rightfield line for an RBI single. Anthony Rizzo followed with his first homer as a Cub and Happ would ultimately become the hard-luck loser.
Fernando Abad relieved Happ to start the seventh and worked out of a jam, striking out Alfonso Soriano to end the inning. I was convinced that Brad Mills had already given up when Abad was left in the game to face the right-handed slugger. I was further convinced when Abad came back out to start the eighth, and even further convinced when the much-maligned David Carpenter relieved Abad after one out in the inning. But both guys were able to keep the light-hitting Cubs off the Wrigley Field scoreboard.
Chris Johnson broke out of an 0 for 12 slump with singles in his first two at-bats. Johnson drew a walk his third time up but was thrown out trying to advance to third on a hit, thwarting yet another scoring opportunity.
The Astros were unable to mount a rally in the ninth against Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. Houston has now lost four of their last six games against the two worst teams in the league, including two straight in Chicago. The offense is missing in action and one of the most consistent producers, Carlos Lee, could be headed to the Dodgers. Jose Altuve could be back in the lineup tomorrow. The diminutive leadoff man and spark plug has been missed since suffering a hamstring strain last week.