In the first matchup between 100-loss clubs in 50 years, Chicago will try to return the favor Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have experienced a bevy of difficult seasons over their history but had dropped 100 or more games only twice before Monday night.
A 3-0 defeat to Houston gave them triple-digit defeats for the first time since 1966. The Cubs (60-100) had only two hits during their 12th loss in 14 games.
"There was a little bit of sleepwalking at the plate. Are guys ready to get out of here? I don't know. I won't put words in anybody's mouth," manager Dale Sveum said. "We didn't take out at-bats like we wanted to stick around."
Tuesday's game will be the first featuring teams with 100 or more losses since the Cubs sent the New York Mets to their 120th defeat Sept. 30, 1962.
The Astros avoided a record-setting defeat Monday as Fernando Martinez hit his third homer in as many contests.
Houston (54-106) has already tied its franchise-record loss total from a year ago. Bud Norris will try to keep the Astros from surpassing that mark and lead them to their first three-game win streak since May 21-25, a four-game run that included a home sweep of Chicago.
Norris (6-13, 4.82 ERA) ended an 18-start winless stretch Wednesday, allowing two hits to St. Louis over a season-high 7 1-3 innings and striking out seven in a 2-0 victory. The right-hander is arbitration eligible this offseason and there's a chance he might not make the move with his teammates to the AL West in 2013.
"I've seen a lot in three years here, a lot of trades, a lot of moves, new owners, new manager, new bench coaches, coaches all over," he said. "There's only been a couple of guys in this locker room that have been here this long with me. We've been through a lot. We've seen a lot at a young age (and) learned to deal with adversity."
Norris had dropped 12 straight decisions following an 8-4 home win over Chicago on May 21, and two of those losses came at Wrigley Field. He gave up six runs over 3 1-3 innings during the latest of those outings Aug. 15.
Norris, who has lost each of his three career starts in Chicago, will pitch opposite Chris Volstad (3-11, 6.64).
Volstad is 0-1 with an 11.37 ERA in three starts since winning at Houston on Sept. 10, and he was tagged for a season-high seven runs over three innings in a 7-5 defeat in Colorado on Thursday.
Volstad is 3-1 with a 4.09 ERA in his last four starts against the Astros and has split two this season.
Martinez is 2 for 7 with a double against the right-hander and 6 for 11 in his last four games against Chicago.
|September 21, 2012||Edgar Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|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|
|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|
CHICAGO (AP) -- After struggling for most of the season, Bud Norris and the last-place Houston Astros have a chance to finish on a positive note.
Norris pitched six shutout innings, Jason Castro homered and the Astros beat the Chicago Cubs 3-0 Tuesday night in a matchup of 100-loss teams.
The Astros have posted three straight shutouts for the first time since 1986, they said in citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
The season-ending series between NL Central clubs marks the first meeting of 100-loss teams in the majors since 1962, when the Cubs played the New York Mets .
The Astros (55-106) won for the fifth time in six games. They have already matched last year's franchise-worst loss total.
"The team won three in a row. That's the way we're looking at it," Norris said. "We're trying end this thing strong and play it all the way through."
Norris (7-13) scattered four hits and won back-to-back starts for the first time since May.
Norris pitched out of several sticky situations. He put runners in scoring position with less than two out in four consecutive innings but didn't allow any runs to cross home. Norris struck out Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo with runners on second and third to end a fourth-inning threat.
The 27-year-old endured a 19-start winless stretch before winning his last two. Four Astros relievers held the Cubs hitless over the final three innings. Wilton Lopez worked the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
"I can't say enough about our bullpen today,' interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said.
Jordan Lyles tossed a complete game at Milwaukee on Sunday and Lucas Harrell and three relievers combined to blank the Cubs on Monday.
Houston is 15-14 since Sept. 1 and has won its first road trip of the season with a 4-1 record. The Astros are playing their final series in the NL before moving to the American League in 2013.
"Either way, we're going to finish strong," DeFrancesco said. "We're going to finish .500 for the month, and we're really excited about the future, what's going on for next season."
DeFrancesco said Wednesday's finale will be special. He managed the Astros' Triple-A team before he took over for the fired manager Brad Mills on Aug. 19.
Houston is 16-24 under DeFrancesco. The Astros have chosen Washington Nationals third-base coach Bo Porter as their new manager. DeFrancesco hopes to remain with the Astros in some capacity.
"If everybody signs the lineup card, it will be a special memory," DeFrancesco said. "I'll get it framed, and move onto a new chapter in my life. This has been a very special chapter."
Chris Volstad (3-12) took the loss for the Cubs, who fell to 60-101.
Castro hit his sixth homer of the year, sending a solo shot into the right-field bleachers with two outs in the second inning. Justin Maxwell reached on shortstop Starlin Castro 's 27th blunder of the year following the home run, and came around to score on Tyler Greene 's single.
Volstad was otherwise effective, striking out six and walking none in seven innings.
Astros pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic walked and scored on Alberto Cabrera 's wild pitch to add an insurance run in the eighth.
The Cubs were blanked for the 16th time this season. It's the second time they have been shutout in back-to-back games, the other instance coming July 21-22 at St. Louis.
"Not a lot of quality at-bats again, left some guys on, striking out with guys in scoring position again," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It's kind of typifying the whole season, these last two nights swinging the bats."
NOTES: Astros OF Scott Moore left in the second when he was hurt diving for Castro's shallow popup. The team announced he had irritation in the AC joint in his left shoulder. ... Astros 2B Jose Altuve left in the fifth with discomfort in his left groin. Neither player is expected to play Wednesday. ... The Astros start Edgar Gonzalez (3-1, 4.15 ERA) on Wednesday. Travis Wood (6-13, 4.39) goes for Chicago. ... The Astros are one victory short of 4,000 wins in franchise history. They are 3,999-4,133 in 51 seasons.