Cubs-Astros: Chicago Survives Ninth-Inning Scare, Sweep Houston

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Cubs-Astros: Chicago Survives Ninth-Inning Scare, Sweep Houston

Filed:May 7th, 2009

Ted Lilly-Chicago Cubs

Cubs starter Ted Lilly (Cubbie Nation/file)

Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz ought to be four-letter words. Oft-injured, overrated, and well past their respective primes. You almost pity Astros manager Cecil Cooper for having not one, but both on his roster. 

It makes me wonder if owner Drayton McLane is mad at him, or something.

So one night after the Cubs trounced Hampton, they had their way with Ortiz, chasing him in the third inning en route to an 8-5 win.

You have to give a lot of credit to a couple of guys for this win. The first is Ted Lilly, who while he looked as bad as Ortiz early on, settled down enough to go six innings for the win.

The Astros picked up a pair in the first, when he couldn't throw strikes, and eventually left a fastball up for Miguel Tejada to jettison over the left field wall. He found his release point as the game progressed, and would go scoreless the rest of the way.

The other was Alfonso Soriano, who homered twice in the game. First, in the fourth inning on a solo shot. Then again in the ninth, with Aaron Miles on. That was part of a big four-run inning at the expense of a ridiculously ineffective Felipe Paulino.

And as it turned out, the Cubs would need it. What was an 8-2 laugher suddenly got real serious when Lou Piniella chose to then sit Kevin Gregg down in the bullpen, in favor of inserting Chad Fox to close out the game.

Now, you would probably think that Fox could make it through the bottom portion of the Astros lineup without giving up too many runs. I'm guessing Lou thought that also.

We were all wrong.

Fox stunk up the joint, serving up hard hit RBI triples by Ivan Rodriguez and Darin Erstad to bring the Astros within three. Kevin Gregg was then forced to enter the game anyway, putting the tying run on deck before retiring Lance Berkman to end the game.

Slowly, this team is starting to figure it out. Now, if the Cubs can make this rumored Ryan Freel for Joey Gathright trade happen, we could actually return to having a competitive ball club on the field with regularity. Stay tuned.

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