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Piniella Has 68 Games Left As Cubs Manager; Tonight Vs. Astros Is One Of Them

(Sports Network) - The Chicago Cubs had the wind taken out of their sails in last night's loss to the Houston Astros and will try for a measure of revenge Tuesday in the second installment of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs won three of four games against the Philadelphia Phillies and were feeling pretty good about themselves. However, the Astros crashed the party with Monday's 11-5 pounding of Chicago in the series opener. Cubs starter Carlos Silva failed in his bid for win No. 10 and lasted just one inning, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks with no strikeouts.

"He's not as sharp as he was earlier, that's for sure," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We have to get him straightened out. We're a little short of pitching. We're probably going to have to get a pitcher up here for tomorrow's game."

Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBI, while Tyler Colvin cracked a solo shot and ended with a pair of runs batted in for the Cubs, who are 3-2 on a 10-game homestand. Ramirez owns six home runs and 17 RBI this month, and has hit safely in 15 of his last 19 games.

Chicago veteran Ryan Dempster will take the ball for Tuesday's game and has won two straight and five of his last seven decisions. He last took the hill in Thursday's 12-6 drubbing of the Phillies and gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts.

Dempster, a right-hander, improved to 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 19 starts this season and will face Houston for the third time in 2010. He is 1-0 over the first two starts, but owns a 5-10 record and a 4.27 ERA with 16 saves through 46 career games, 20 of which have been starts, against the Astros.

The Astros won for just the third time in seven tries last night and set the tone with five runs in the first inning. Jason Castro clubbed a three-run homer and Chris Johnson contributed a two-run shot and three RBI for Houston, which got two RBI apiece from Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee.

"The guys were getting some quality at-bats, that's the biggest thing," Astros manager Brad Mills said after the 17-hit barrage. "It was nice to see everybody pitch in up and down and have a balanced attack the way they swung the bats."

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez yielded eight hits and five runs over six innings to win for the fourth time in five starts.

Wesley Wright is expected to make his first major league start tonight for Houston and is 0-0 with a 5.59 ERA in six relief appearances this season. He has made 13 starts at Triple-A Round Rock, going 4-0 with a 4.18 ERA.

The left-hander last took the mound for the 'Stros in a 9-3 loss versus Texas on June 18, as he yielded two runs and two hits in two innings with a pair of strikeouts. In 13 career relief appearances against the Cubs, Wright is 2-0 with a 5.06 earned run average.

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