In their final game before moving to the AL next year, the Astros look to end their season on a high note at Wrigley Field and again avoid a franchise-record 107th defeat Wednesday against the majors' only other 100-loss team.
Houston (55-106) will finish with the worst record in the major leagues for the second consecutive season. But the Astros have played better down the stretch, winning five of their last six and 15 of 29 since the start of September. Now they can avoid a franchise-worst finish, set last year at 56-106, by completing a sweep of Chicago.
A win Wednesday would be a nice bookend for the franchise, which opened its inaugural 1962 season with three straight wins over the Cubs, when the Astros were known as the Colt .45s.
This year's Cubs (60-101) are likely candidates to get swept, having lost 100 games for the first time since its franchise worst-tying 59-103 finish in 1966.
The Astros beat the Cubs 3-0 on Tuesday night in the first meeting between two 100-loss teams since Sept. 30, 1962.
Overall, Houston has put together three consecutive shutouts for the first time since Sept. 23-25, 1986. The franchise has never posted four straight.
"The team won three in a row. That's the way we're looking at it," Tuesday's starter Bud Norris said. "We're trying to end this thing strong and play it all the way through."
Chicago, which has dropped 13 of 15, has managed only six hits in the first two games of this series.
"Not a lot of quality at-bats again, left some guys on, striking out with guys in scoring position again," manager Dale Sveum said. "It's kind of typifying the whole season, these last two nights swinging the bats."
The Cubs hope to muster more offense in support of Wednesday's starter Travis Wood (6-13, 4.39 ERA), who went 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA in six September starts after going 0-8 in his first nine games after the All-Star break. The left-hander gave up five runs in five innings of an 8-3 loss at Arizona on Friday.
He is 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros, including 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA this season.
Edgar Gonzalez (3-1, 4.15) will make his sixth start for Houston. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three road starts after allowing three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-6 victory at Milwaukee on Friday.
Gonzalez made his only previous start against the Cubs in 2008 while with Arizona, holding them to two runs and five hits in five innings and failing to get a decision.
"If everybody signs the lineup card, it will be a special memory," said DeFrancesco, who hopes to remain with the team in some capacity. "I'll get it framed and move on to a new chapter in my life. This has been a very special chapter."
|October 02, 2012||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left groin|
|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|
|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) -- Bryan LaHair homered and hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat Houston 5-4 Wednesday in the Astros' National League finale.
In the first series between 100-game losers in the major leagues since 1962, LaHair homered in the second and broke a 4-all tie in the ninth against Hector Ambriz (1-1).
Houston went 55-107 and set a club record for losses with one more than last year. The Astros became the first team with 106 or more losses in consecutive seasons since the 1964-65 New York Mets .
Houston finished its NL tenure with 3,999 regular-season wins and 4,134 losses with five ties. The Astros are moving to the AL West next season, creating three divisions of five teams in each league.
The Astros was 16-25 under interim manager Tony DeFrancesco, who took over after Brad Mills was fired on Aug. 18. Washington third base coach Bo Porter already has been hired as Houston's manager for next season.
The Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908, went 61-101 for their most losses since dropping 103 games in 1966.
Carlos Marmol (3-3) pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win.
Justin Maxwell hit a tying, three-run homer for Houston in the eighth off Shawn Camp .
Cubs starter Travis Wood allowed one run, three hits and five walks in 6 1-3 innings, giving up Carlos Corporan 's RBI single in the first. Wood also chased Astros starter Edgar Gonzalez with a two-run single.
Gonzalez gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings. Houston pitched 28 consecutive scoreless innings before LaHair's homer in the second.
Most Cubs' regulars were given the day off. The exception, Starlin Castro became the first player in franchise history to play shortstop in all 162 games, and the first major leaguer to do it since Jimmy Rollins in 2007. Castro's 195 consecutive games played is the longest active streak in the NL.
NOTES: The Cubs drew 2,882,756 to Wrigley Field, the first time under 3 million at home since 2003. ... Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano said he is open to being traded in the offseason if the Cubs don't plan on contending the next two years. "I just want to have one more shot to go to the World Series before I (retire)," Soriano said. The 36-year-old said he will seriously consider retiring when his contract expires after the 2014 season. He is slated to make $18 million each of the next two seasons.