Chicago Cubs Bear-Hand Series from Houston Astros
Derrek Lee's bat comes up big again as the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros, 3-2, to win two out of three games.
The game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning with Oscar Villarreal pitching for the Astros. Reed Johnson hit a fly out to right to lead off the inning.
Lee hit his first pitch for a home run to left center field that gave the Cubs the run they needed.
Lee has had a strong start to the season batting 10-for-25 with six of those going for extra bases.
Lee said he is impressed with his performance so far.
"I feel good. It is only a week in. I'll just try to maintain it," Lee said. "We got a long way to go. You have to go out and have good at-bats every day."
Villarreal, 0-2, has allowed runs in his last three outings, and two of them resulted in him getting the loss. He got the loss in Thursday's game against the Padres.
To date Villarreal's ERA is 5.40.
The Astros tried scoring in the first, but Alfonso Soriano threw out Michael Bourn at the plate trying to advance on Carlos Lee's fly ball out to left.
Houston's manager Cecil Cooper said they wanted to score early against Cubs' starter, Carlos Zambrano.
"You have to try. You've got 'Z' on the mound," Cooper said, adding that he did not fault third base coach Ed Romero's decision to send Bourn. "The one thing I told my third base coach was to be aggressive. It has to be a perfect throw."
Cubs' first baseman Derrek Lee said Soriano made an impressive play.
"It kind of turned the momentum to our side. It could have been a big inning,” Lee said. “But that double play really got us going."
The Cubs started the scoring in the second inning. Mark DeRosa led off the inning with a single. Ryan Theriot reached on a fielder's choice. Henry Blanco loaded the bases with a single.
Zambrano grounded into a double play that resulted in DeRosa scoring and Theriot advanced to third.
The Astros scored in the third. Brandon Backe led off the inning with a double to right.
Michael Bourn grounded out to second and Backe advanced to third. Darin Erstad singled to center with two outs to score Backe.
The Cubs broke the tie in the fifth when Alfonso Soriano hit a home run to left to end his slump.
Soriano only had one hit going into the game, and Backe said he thought he had him.
"I thought I had him off balance all day. Literally I had him off balance on that pitch," Backe said. "If it wasn't for the basket, it probably wasn't going out. With that said, it's a pitch I can't have him hit. It's got to be in the dirt."
Astros' shortstop Miguel Tejada hit his first home run of the season to tie the game in the seventh inning.
Astros' starter Backe pitched six innings allowing six hits, two runs, three walks, and striking out seven.
Cubs' starter Zambrano, 1-0, pitched seven innings allowing seven hits, two runs, and striking out seven to get his first win of the season.
Kerry Wood closed out the game with a perfect ninth to earn his third save.
The Astros (2-5) open the home season Monday 5:30 PM CST against the Cardinals (5-1).
Wandy Rodriguez (0-0) will start for the Astros against the Cardinals’ Todd Wellemeyer (1-0).
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