The Chicago Cubs score five runs in the seventh inning and Derrek Lee was 4-for-4 with a homerun and drove in the go ahead run, in a 9-7 victory over the Houston Astros.
Roy Oswalt came into the seventh inning despite feeling a tingle in his pitching arm. The inning started with Ryan Theriot getting a walk. Mike Fontenot pinched hit for reliever Kevin Hart and got an infield single that moved Theriot to second. Alfonso Soriano advanced the runners on a groundout to third. Reed Johnson drove in Theriot on a groundout to the shortstop to cut the Astros lead to 5-4. Houston’s manager took a risk and decided to pitch to Lee in hopes of getting out of the inning with a lead. Lee drove the ball past a diving third baseman to tie the game at five and ended Oswalt’s day.
"He's a good hitter. I always have problems with him. Lately it seems like he knows what's coming and it's more embarrassing than anything," Oswalt said of Derrek Lee.
Cooper put in Oscar Villarreal who walked Armais Ramirez advancing Lee to second. Cooper pulled him and put in Wesley Wright. Wright faced Kosuke Fukudome and got behind in the count 3-1. Fukudome took a pitch and fouled off two more, before he hit a double to left that brought in Lee and Ramirez to give the Cubs a 7-5 lead. Geoff Geary relieved Wright and balked letting Fukudome advance to third. Mark DeRosa got a double with a ball that just ended up out of Michael Bourn’s reach, which scored Fukudome. Geary got the final out of the inning by striking out the catcher Geovany Soto.
Oswalt (0-2) for the second time in a row had a rough outing, pitched six and two thirds innings giving up five runs on ten hits, and not getting any strikeouts for the first time since a 2003 start vs. the Atlanta Braves. Cooper said he still has confidence in his ace.
The Astros did try to rally in the eighth. Darin Erstad led off with a single on Cubs’ reliever Bob Howry. Carlos Lee followed with a double that moved Erstad to third. Miguel Tejada drove in Erstad with a groundout to second and Carlos Lee advanced to third. Geoff Blum pinched hit for Tomas Perez and drove in Carlos Lee with a single to center to cut the lead to 8-7.
Johnson added an insurance run for the Cubs in the eighth when he drove in Ronny Cedeno on a single. Kerry Wood pitched the ninth to get his second save of the season.
Carlos Lee also had a good day batting going 3-for-4 with a homerun, two doubles and a single. The Astros had the lead early in the game 5-2. Bourn scored in the first on Lance Berkman’s double play. Tejada scored on Mark Loretta’s single in the second. Carlos Lee homered to left in the fourth and drove in a run with a double in the sixth. Erstad drove in Hunter Pence with a double to right.
The loss was tougher for the Astros because Berkman and Ty Wigginton left the game with injuries. Berkman left in the fourth with neck spasms and Wigginton had a groundball go off his thumb in the seventh inning. Erstad will probably start at first in Sunday’s series closer.
The Astros (2-4) close out the series with the Cubs (2-3) Sunday at 1:20 pm. Brandon Backe will start for the Astros against the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano.