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The beginning to Wednesday night’s Astros-Cub series finale can be easily summarized. It was almost a mirror image of how the first two games of the series went as they lose, 9-5, at Minute Maid Park.
During Game 1, the Cubs jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, and the Astros tried to claw back before just falling short. During Game 2, it was the Astros jumping on the Cubs early and coasting to an 11-2 win without Brad Mills on the bench. During the final game of the series, both managers were on the bench, and the Cubs erupted for a five-run first inning that was highlighted by an Alfonso Soriano three-run homer over the Crawford Boxes to put Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros in an early 5-0 hole.
Although Rodriguez was shaky in the beginning, he was able to settle down and keep the Astros in the game for the five innings he pitched. He was able to get some help in the third inning, when third baseman Matt Downs snared a hard-hit, bases-loaded groundball from Alfonso Soriano and turned a 5-2-3 double play to almost kill the Chicago rally.
Wandy left the game with the Astros still down 5-0 as reliever Fernando Abad took the mound. During Abad’s lone inning of relief, he surrendered a towering solo shot to Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano. Can he be more of a thorn in the Astros side? Zambrano seems to be able to get it done with his arm and his bat whenever he faces the Astros. That solo shot was Zambrano’s sixth home run he’s hit against the Astros. Five of those homers have been hit at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros were able to get to Zambrano in the bottom of the sixth by plating five runs and knocking him out of the game with one out left in the frame. Downs sent Zambrano to the showers with a two-run bomb over the Gallery Furniture sign in left-center field to pull the Astros within one run as the Cubs lead, 6-5. The Astros couldn’t muster any more offense and then gave up three more runs in the ninth.
The Astros lose two of three games to the Cubs but are hoping to bounce back with a successful home series against the San Diego Padres. Bud Norris will take the mound Thursday night as he is looking for his first win of the season and will face San Diego’s Dustin Moseley.