Cubs Leave 16 On Base, Lose Another Series To Astros

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Cubs Rally In Last Of 12th, Fall Short 4-3

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Jason Michaels delivered a tie-breaking, two- run, pinch-hit double and scored in the 12th inning to lift Houston over the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, in the rubber match of a three-game set.

Brandon Lyon (6-4) worked his way out of jams in the 10th and 11th innings to grab the win for the Astros, who have captured each of the first three series between the teams this season. Gustavo Chacin served up a two-out, two-run home run to Geovany Soto and survived a very shaky 12th to earn his first career save.

Angel Sanchez had three hits and drove in a run for Houston, which has won back-to-back series at Wrigley Field for the first time since the 2002-03 seasons.

Bob Howry (1-3) took the loss after allowing two runs on a pair of hits while recording only one out for the Cubs, who have lost three straight series to Houston for the first time since June 5 – July 5, 2006.

Howry opened the 12th on the hill in a 1-1 game for the Cubs and allowed back-to-back singles to Jeff Keppinger and Chris Johnson to start the frame before Jason Castro bunted into a force at third.

James Russell came on to replace Howry and got Michael Bourn to ground out, which advanced the runners to second and third.

Jeff Stevens then took over and gave up Michaels’ two-run double into the alley in left-center field. Sanchez followed with a base hit to right field to plate Michaels and give Houston a 4-1 edge.

Chacin retired the first two hitters in the home half of the inning before Kosuke Fukodome walked and scored when Soto blasted his long ball to left.

Ryan Theriot kept the rally going with a single and moved to second base when pinch-hitter Jeff Baker walked before Tyler Colvin lined out to right to end the game.

The Cubs missed out chances to end the game in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings. They put runners at the corners with one out in the ninth, but could not score after Alfonso Soriano flied out to shallow center and Colvin struck out against Tim Byrdak.

The hosts loaded the bases with one out in the tenth on a Starlin Castro double and a pair of walks, but Lyon navigated his way through the jam by striking out Fukodome and getting Soto to fly out.

Chicago left runners at second and third in the 11th after Derrek Lee flied out to end the frame.

The Cubs broke up a scoreless game in the fifth on a two-out, run-scoring double by Castro that plated starting pitcher Ted Lilly, who had singled to pick up his first hit of the year earlier in the inning.

Houston start Brett Myers tossed seven innings to extend his franchise-record to 20 consecutive starts to open the season lasting at least six innings. The right-hander yielded a lone run on five hits and two walks while striking out eight and left trailing, 1-0.

Lilly took a five-hit shutout into the eighth inning before Pedro Feliz led off with a pinch-hit home run to left to tie the game.

Sanchez singled with one out to chase the left-hander from the game and bring on Sean Marshall, who retired Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence to end the frame.

Lilly allowed seven hits while walking one and fanning six over 7 1/3 innings.

The Astros last back-to-back series wins at Wrigley came when they took three of four from August 12-15, 2002 and two out of three from May 30-June 1, 2003. Feliz snapped an 0-for-14 drought with his long ball and is just 2-for-23 during the month of July….Roy Oswalt was the last Houston pitcher to string together 20 straight starts of six innings or more when did it from May 11- August 22, 2005…Keppinger went 2-for-5 and has 30 multi-hit games this year… Houston right-hander Felipe Paulino was diagnosed with a mild rotator cuff strain after being examined by team doctors Tuesday. He is expected to be out for approximately another four weeks…The Cubs have been held to three runs or fewer in 17 of their last 29 games…Lilly is 7-0 in nine starts against Houston since July 14, 2007. He had thrown 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless frames against the Astros until Feliz’s home run…The Cubs are 12-21 in one-run games.

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Cubs' Lilly, Astros' Myers Battle In Matchup Of Trade-Rumored Pitchers

(Sports Network) - Two pitchers rumored to be on the trading block get together this afternoon in the Windy City, where Ted Lilly and the host Chicago Cubs take on Brett Myers and the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field in the finale of a three-game set.

Lilly is 0-2 with an 8.83 earned run average in his last three starts, but pitched well enough for the win his last time out in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia last Thursday. He struck out 10 batters, allowed three runs and issued only one walk in six innings to remain at 3-8 in 16 starts to go along with a 4.07 ERA.

The veteran left-hander, who is just 2-4 in nine home starts, has enjoyed success against rival Houston in his career. Lilly is 7-1 with a 2.49 earned run average in 10 starts against the Astros.

Myers will try to push his winning streak to three straight starts when he takes the mound Wednesday. Myers hurled eight innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 win versus St. Louis on July 10, then held Pittsburgh to a pair of runs over 7 2/3 frames of his team's 5-2 victory last Thursday from PNC Park.

The right-hander, who is 7-6 in 19 starts with a 3.35 ERA, hasn't pitched so well on the road in his first season with Houston, going 2-6 in 10 starts away from Minute Maid Park. Myers beat Chicago in a 6-3 decision back on June 6 at home, as he fired 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball.

He is 8-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 14 career games (10 starts) against the Cubs.

Trying to slow down Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez may be tough since the slugger is coming off a three-homer game in last night's 14-7 blasting of the Astros. Ramirez, who racked up seven RBI in the lopsided win, owns seven home runs and 24 RBI this month, and has hit safely in 16 of his last 20 games.

Ramirez must have been motivated by the announcement that manager Lou Piniella will step down at season's end. Geovany Soto got into the act with a home run as well, while Starlin Castro posted three hits and Derrek Lee went 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored.

"Watching from the bullpen and seeing the way Ramy's been swinging the bat, going all the way back to Arizona [series July 5-7], he's been seeing the ball well and he picked us up tonight," Cubs reliever Andrew Cashner said. "As soon as I got up, I thought I'd be going in and I just tried to keep it close."

Cashner tossed two innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first win in the majors and starter Ryan Dempster gave up seven runs -- four earned -- on eight hits in five innings of work for the no-decision.

The Cubs are 4-2 on their 10-game homestand and will also host St. Louis for three games at Wrigley Field. Piniella, meanwhile, is in his fourth season as Cubs manager. He guided the club to a winning record in each of his first three years, but the team is just 43-52. Piniella is the first Cubs manager in more than 70 years to post a record of .500 or better in each of his first three seasons with the team. He led the Cubs to NL Central titles in 2007 and 2008, but the team was swept in the Division Series both years.

Chicago has not won a World Series since 1908 and hasn't reached the Fall Classic since 1945.

Houston has lost three of four games and had a rough night on the mound. Starter Wesley Wright made his first career start and surrendered six runs, one of which was earned, and six hits in 4 2/3 innings in the no-decision. Brandon Lyon suffered the loss for permitting two runs in the eighth and Gary Majewski was reached for five runs in the ninth.

"I wish I could have executed a little bit better in that fifth inning and gave our team a chance to get over it and move forward, but I didn't," Wright said. "I wish I would have made a different pitch to Ramirez. I showed him the curveball a lot, and he got it up in the air and it just kept carrying."

Chris Johnson homered and finished with two RBI for the Astros, who scored four runs in the second inning and took a 6-0 lead in the fourth. Carlos Lee had two hits and an RBI in a losing outcome.

Houston has won five of eight matchups with Chicago this season, one year after the Cubs took 11 of the 17 matchups between the two clubs.

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