HOUSTON (Ticker) -- A pitching matchup between
did not seem to favor the
, but their offense had other ideas.
doubled twice as the Astros made short work of Wood and captured the rubber game of a three-game series with a 9-3 victory over the
Houston remained in first place in the National League Central Division by one game over St. Louis. Chicago fell into third place, 1 1/2 games back, squandering a chance to grab the top spot.
Wood (11-10), who made his mark by striking out 20 Astros as a rookie on May 6, 1998, allowed five runs and six hits in four innings. He failed to get out of the third inning Saturday against Los Angeles and fell to 0-3 against Houston this season.
"I had as good of stuff as I have had all year," Wood said. "It was like they knew what was coming. I got my (butt) kicked out there."
"There's no logical reason for it," Houston catcher
said. "He's certainly dominated us in the past. We have our hands full when he pitches. We might have gotten lucky a few times, but he's an excellent pitcher."
Hidalgo's first double set up a two-run second inning. Ausmus lifted a sacrifice fly and Hidalgo scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
tripled to open the third inning and scored on
Biggio snapped out of an 0-for-14 slump by connecting for a two-run homer with one out in the fourth. He struck out in the first inning and grounded out in the second.
"I didn't know if it would get out," Biggio said. "I hit it pretty hard, but that wall (in left field) is pretty high. I was just happy to hit it hard. That was nice."
Villone (5-2), who improved to 2-6 lifetime against Chicago, yielded one run and three hits in five innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter.
worked a pair of scoreless innings and
finished up, giving up two runs in the ninth.
Chicago missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the second inning.
led off with a single and Villone walked
. After a short fly ball by
grounded into a double play.
"The second inning was the key part of the game," Astros manager
said. "They had the bases loaded with no outs, and we got the fly ball to right field, and Hidalgo's reputation with the arm kept them from scoring. Then we got the double play and got out of it without them scoring any runs."
The Astros followed by getting two hits against Wood over the next three innings. Biggio, who was 7-for-63 this month, capped it with his blast to left field.
The Cubs again loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth inning and failed to take full advantage.
hit for Wood and struck out and
got Chicago on the board with a sacrifice fly. But Martinez attempted to cross to third base and was thrown out.
"It is what it is," Cubs manager
said. "We're a game and a half back. We're still in pretty good shape. It's disappointing (to lose the series), but you have to buckle back up and get ready for the next series."
relieved to start the fifth inning for Chicago and was greeted by five straight hits. Hidalgo doubled in a run,
scored on a wild pitch and Ausmus added an RBI single for an 8-1 bulge.
Alou stroked a two-run double in the ninth inning for the Cubs' final runs.
The game was the last meeting of the year between the division rivals. Chicago won nine of 16.
"It wasn't a huge series," Ausmus said. "There's a lot of baseball left to be played. It was the last chance we had to beat the Cubs, and it's nice to beat the team that's right behind you."