A sign that tonight is not your pitcher’s night may be giving up six hits in the first inning. Another sign may be that eight of nine batters got to bat in the first inning. Or maybe when the opposing pitcher triples.
Moehler, who had two solid outings against the Pirates and Rockies, struggled against the Cubs on Monday night. The Astros starter only pitched three innings allowing eight hits, five runs, walking two and striking out three.
The Astros (25-31) won five of their last seven games entering this game. Houston fell to 2-6 against the Cubs and 11-25 against teams above .500. The Astros lost five straight games against teams above .500.
While Moehler struggled, Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly (7-4) pitched a strong game. Lilly pitched six-and-two-thirds scoreless innings, only giving up three hits and two walks. In the second inning, Lilly contributed with his bat, getting a triple into right-center.
Aaron Heilman added a scoreless inning and a third in relief.
The Cubs (29-26) have won four of their last five games and four of their last five against the Astros. While the Cubs scored seven runs they could have scored more, as they left the bases loaded three times.
From the first inning, things immediately went the Cubs way. Three of their first four batters got on base. Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a double. After Ryan Theriot flied out, Kosuke Fukudome hit a ground-rule double to right scoring Soriano. Derrek Lee singled and scored Fukudome.
Lee scored on a Geovany Soto single, giving Chicago a 3-0 lead. Andres Blanco got the Cubs last hit of the first with a single. Mike Fontenot ended the inning by being thrown out at home by Michael Bourn.
Things deteriorated for Moehler, as Lilly led off the second with a triple to right-center. Fukudome drove him in, reaching on a throwing error by Edwin Maysonet. Fontenot led off the third with a home run to left, expanding the Cubs lead to 5-0.
Brandon Backe relieved Moehler and pitched three innings. In his second appearance this season, Backe started off well, striking out his first two batters and pitching two scoreless innings.
The Cubs would rough him up in the sixth. After Fukudome flied out to right, Lee walked. Backe struck out Milton Bradley but would run into trouble. Fontenot and Soto both got singles loading the bases. Blanco drove in Lee and Fontenot with a double. Backe ended the inning by striking out Lilly.
Backe allowed six hits, two runs, walked three, and struck out four. Alberto Arias pitched two scoreless innings and Tim Byrdak pitched a scoreless ninth.
Lance Berkman got the Astros only run with a ninth inning home run to left. Houston only got five hits. Berkman and Miguel Tejada each had two, and Hunter Pence got a double in the first inning.
The Cubs got 16 hits on Houston’s pitchers. Bradley and Theriot were the only Cubs that did not get a hit. Fukudome and Lee each reached base in five of six plate appearances. Blanco and Fukudome led the Cubs in RBI with two each.
The Astros and Cubs resume their series Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. Wandy Rodriguez is starting for Houston against Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano.