Astros hand Cubs 8th straight loss
The Astros used timely hitting and outstanding pitching to earn a 2-1 win over the Cubs Tuesday night. Jose Altuve led off the bottom of the first inning with a homerun to give the Astros and J.A. Happ an early lead. Altuve went down hard in the top of the inning attempting to turn a double-play. Chris Johnson‘s feed was high and Altuve had both feet off the ground when David DeJesus slid into him. Altuve got back up, brushed himself off, and came back with a blast to deep left-centerfield.
Happ picked up his fourth win of the season. He pitched six innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks. Happ fanned six and threw 68 of his 106 pitches for strikes. Cubs starter Travis Wood, recalled from AAA Iowa prior to the game, matched Happ for 5 & 2/3 innings. Wood gave up two hits in the first inning and settled in after that, allowing only two walks. Unfortunately for him, the second walk came in the sixth inning and got him pulled from the game. J.D. Martinez drove that runner in with a single to rightfield, making Wood the tough-luck loser.
The Cubs only run of the game came on a homerun by Alfonso Soriano. It was his 23rd career longball against the Astros. Wesley Wright fololwed Happ to the mound and retired all four of the batters he faced. Wilton Lopez was next out of the bullpen and gave up a single to the first hitter he faced. Tony Campana pinch ran and was able to advance to third base on an errant pick-off throw from Lopez. It looked like Campana would be out at third, but he miraculously dove over the tag of Matt Downs. Lopez struck out Starlin Castro and Soriano to get out of the jam and Brett Myers finished things off with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Starlin Castro made a great play behind Wood in the fourth inning. Castro dove to his right, popped to his feet, and threw out Chris Johnson at first. Johnson didn’t care for the call and slammed his helmet to the ground. Umpire Tim Tschida was unimpressed and ejected Johnson from the game.
The Astros made the most of their four hits although they took somewhat of an odd approach against Wood. Three of the first twelve Astros batters were retired on failed bunt attempts. I didn’t quite understand that particular strategy. But it all worked out in the end as the struggling Cubs just couldn’t generate any offense.