Chicago's Travis Wood picked up his first victory since the All-Star break his last time out.
Given his history against the Houston Astros , he appears to have a good shot at making it two in a row.
Wood looks to continue his stellar pitching against the Astros as he takes the ball for the Cubs in Wednesday night's series finale between baseball's two worst teams.
Chicago (55-87) is expected to be without slugger Anthony Rizzo for its last game in Houston with the Astros (45-97) as a member of the NL after he left Tuesday's 1-0 loss with a sore right shoulder and upper back sustained in a collision with Brett Wallace at first base. A high throw by second baseman Jimmy Paredes - his second of three errors - forced Wallace to jump. Rizzo then hit the first baseman, causing him to tumble violently to the ground."I was just stunned, dazed, at first. That's why at first I didn't move," Rizzo said. "I'm more sore than anything ... it was an ugly fall."
Rizzo, who is batting .340 with three homers in his last 13 games, walked off the field with the help of team trainers, and the Cubs are going to monitor him for the next couple of days. His absence in the lineup would be a big blow for Chicago, which had its season high-tying four-game winning streak end Tuesday, but the Cubs might not need much offense behind Wood (5-11, 4.42 ERA).
It also helps that Starling Castro has been locked in lately, batting .405 with five doubles and six RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
In Wood's five starts versus the Astros since 2011, he is 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA - his lowest ERA against any team he has faced more than once. His best start of the year came against Houston on July 1, when he gave up three hits in a season-high 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 victory.
In Pittsburgh on Friday, Wood gave up one hit and three walks over six shutout innings in a 12-2 win over the Pirates, his first victory since July 6. In the 10 starts between wins, the left-hander went 0-8 with a 6.33 ERA.
The Astros have experienced similar futility behind Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30) in losing in each of his last nine outings, though, he's only started the last three.
After allowing one run in four innings in his first career start against the New York Mets on Aug. 25, Abad has a 10.80 ERA in his last two.
"He'll improve more and more every outing," catcher Carlos Corporan told the Astros' official website after Abad yielded five runs in four innings in last Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh. "He needs to learn how to be a starter."
The lefty made 81 relief appearances - including 30 this year - before moving into the rotation. He's come out of the bullpen 10 times against the Cubs, and has a 2.16 ERA over 8 1-3 innings.
Altuve entered Tuesday's game in the eighth inning after being sidelined since Friday with an abdominal strain, and Lowrie could return from a sprained right ankle that landed him on the disabled list July 15.
|September 11, 2012||Anthony Rizzo||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right shoulder|
|September 07, 2012||Blake Parker||60-Day DL||Bone contusion in right elbow|
|September 07, 2012||Brett Jackson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right knee|
|July 28, 2012||Matt Garza||60-Day DL||Stress reaction, right elbow|
|July 21, 2012||Matt Garza||Day-to-Day||Left game - right triceps cramp|
|June 16, 2012||Ryan Dempster||15-Day DL||Right lat tightness|
|September 07, 2012||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left abdominal|
|August 30, 2012||Marwin Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament, left ankle|
|August 28, 2012||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|August 22, 2012||Justin Maxwell||Day-to-Day||Bruised right index finger|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
HOUSTON (AP) -- Travis Wood has bounced back from eight straight losses to win his last two. Now he wants to keep that going the rest of the season.
Alfonso Soriano finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs and Travis Wood allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 win over the Houston Astros Wednesday night.
Dave Sappelt also had three hits for the Cubs, who have won five of the last six games.
"The ball is coming out good," Wood said. "I have been able to locate pitches. I just want to finish the season strong and show that I can handle a full season."
Wood (6-11) gave up four hits and struck out six. Wood has allowed only one run in his last two starts, spanning 13 2-3 innings.
Wood, who didn't allow a base runner until Justin Maxwell 's single to lead off the fifth, said his backdoor cutter was working against the Astros and he was able to keep Houston off balance.
Manager Dale Sveum said Wood, who was acquired in the offseason by Chicago, pitched "a heck of a game."
"When we got him, we knew he had some arm strength and arm speed and could do some things," Sveum said. "Obviously, a lot of that one way pitching was getting him in trouble. Now, he has learned to pitch to his arm side."
Fernando Abad (0-4) gave up a run on four hits in 3 1-3 innings with two strikeouts and three walks.
In his four starts this season, Abad has not lasted longer than 4 1-3 innings. Houston manager Tony DeFrancesco said he had seen enough of Abad.
"We're trying to win a ballgame, and we want to win as many as we can," DeFrancesco said. "If Abad was throwing strikes early, he might have had a chance of getting out of it, but at that point, I felt it was time to move on."
In a scary moment, Houston reliever Mickey Storey left the game with a contusion to his right hand and the right side of his jaw after being hit in the side of face by a Sappelt line drive in the top of the eighth inning. Sappelt's liner appeared to have glanced off Storey's right shoulder before hitting him in his jaw.
Storey fell to a knee and grabbed his jaw area as Astros personnel rushed to check on him. He was down for several minutes before walking into the Astros dugout with the help of Houston trainers.
"The best thing I can take from this is that it didn't hit somewhere worse," Storey said. "Initially, it was shock and hurt, but I think I'll be all right. Hopefully, I'll be back out there soon."
Sappelt, who played against Storey in Triple A, said he felt bad and hoped Storey was all right.
"When I hit it, I didn't think he would be able to get out of the way," Seppelt said. "As soon as he let the ball go, it was coming right at him. I didn't know whether to run to him at the mound or to first. I was in one of those `I don't know what to do' moments."
Welington Castro gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first with a two-out single.
Soriano hit his 29th home run of the year off Chuckie Fick in the fifth and extended the lead to 3-0 in the seventh with an RBI single off Fernando Rodriguez down the left field line.
Anthony Recker upped Chicago's lead to 4-0 in the eighth with a double to the right field gap off Jose Valdez .
Houston cut the lead to 4-1 in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Fernando Martinez off Shawn Camp , scoring Brandon Barnes , who had chased Wood with a two-out double. Jose Altuve then reached on a single and Jed Lowrie walked to load the bases, but Camp struck out J.D. Martinez to end the threat.
Chicago made it 5-1 in the ninth as pinch runner Tony Campana stole third and scored on Chris Snyder 's high throw.
NOTES: Chicago IF Anthony Rizzo is expected back Friday, Sveum said before Wednesday's game. "He just had a little soreness on his upper right side, but he took some swings in the cage today and he's fine," Sveum said. ...Rizzo collided with Astros 1B Brett Wallace during Tuesday's game. Actor/comedian Cheech Marin threw out the first pitch before Wednesday's game. Houston starts a four-game series against Philadelphia Thursday with Lucas Harrell taking the mound against Tyler Cloyd for the Phillies. Chicago is off Thursday before opening a four-game series against Pittsburgh at home with Chris Rusin starting against the Pirates' James McDonald .