CHICAGO (AP) -No one knew
starting pitcher left after five innings on a hot and muggy Tuesday night, more than two hours before
won it for the
with a two-run homer in the 11th inning.
Zambrano's short outing was almost forgotten after the Astros' wild 9-7 win.
So it was a bit of a surprise when Cubs manager
revealed that Zambrano left because of arm problems. Zambrano will have his right arm examined Wednesday.
Any absence could affect the Cubs, who are trying to hold on to first place in the NL Central, not to mention the best record
in the league. With starter
being skipped for precautionary reasons this week, this is news the Cubs didn't need to hear.
''He told our pitching coach he wasn't feeling good,'' Piniella said. ''It has to be in his arm. I just don't know. We'll
let you know tomorrow when we find out.''
Blum's two-run homer off
sent the Astros to their seventh straight victory, one shy of their season high.
''That's what we've been doing lately,'' Astros manager
said. ''Getting it from everywhere and everybody. Just contributions up and down the lineup.''
The first-place Cubs, who have lost four straight, all at home, remained 4 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central.
''We're in a stretch right now where things aren't going our way,'' Piniella said. ''We've just got to battle through it.
What can you do?''
Zambrano was coming off a poor August and was pushed back two days with arm fatigue. He didn't overpower the Astros, rarely
hitting 90 mph, and gave up three runs, five hits and three walks in five innings. He was pulled after 86 pitches.
Zambrano was unavailable for comment, and his teammates were almost speechless about a possible injury.
''I had no idea,'' catcher
said. ''I still don't know what's going on. To be honest with you, I think he was a little better than his last couple outings.''
Wood (4-3) walked
and Blum sent the first pitch into the bleachers in right for his 14th homer. Wood struck out four in two innings.
''Lance worked a pretty big walk in that situation,'' Blum said. ''I was guessing that with Lance's ability to steal a base
and get into scoring position with one out, it might give me an opportunity to get a fastball. I guessed right.''
The Cubs had 15 hits and eight walks, but they also hit into four double plays and stranded 12 runners. Third baseman
committed errors in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings.
''We squandered some opportunities, but we scored seven runs, which is ample enough to win,'' Piniella said. ''Houston's playing
well, give them credit.''
(4-3) went two scoreless innings and
worked the 11th for his 39th save, ending a game that took 4 hours, 17 minutes.
Houston scored four runs in the sixth to take a 7-3 lead.
tied the game 3-3 with a two-run single off Zambrano, who didn't let on he wasn't feeling well.
didn't have a lot of time before replacing Zambrano for the sixth and six batters later, he was booed off the field.
started the carnage with a triple off the wall in center and
followed with a single.
singled and Howry walked pinch-hitter
hit a two-run single through a drawn-in infield, ending Howry's night, and the Astros scored one more on Tejada's double play
Houston is 7 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the wild-card race.
''We're going to keep believing and we're going to keep fighting every day,'' said Pence, who went 4-for-6, falling a homer
shy of the cycle.
The Cubs scratched back in the bottom of the sixth, cutting the Astros' lead to 7-6.
hit a two-run double and scored from third on
snapped a 1-for-14 slump with a solo homer in the seventh to tie it 7-7.
The Cubs had gone three games without an extra-base hit.
reversed that trend in the first with his fourth leadoff homer of the season, and the Cubs added three solo homers and three
''We had a very good offense today,'' Soriano said. ''I hope we come back with more energy tomorrow.''
Backe gave up the three solo homers in 4 1-3 innings. He allowed nine hits and walked two.
Notes: Slumping Cubs OF
didn't start Tuesday, but entered as a pinch-hitter, walking once and getting a hit. He won't play Wednesday against lefty
, but the left-handed hitter should be back in the starting lineup this weekend, Piniella said. ... The Astros activated 2B
Kaz Matsui from the 15-day DL, but he won't play until the weekend. Houston also brought up C J.R. Towles, RHP
. ... Cubs RHP
pitched for the first time since June 1, 2007, after undergoing
surgery. ... The Cubs set a club record, surpassing 3 million fans in 74 games, beating the previous record, set last year,
by one game.