CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 01: Starting pitcher Brett Myers #39 of the Houston Astros delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Astros Sweep Cubs Behind Strong Outing From Myers

SB Nation Houston's coverage of the Cubs-Astros series from May 30th - June 1st

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Bourn's Clutch Single Gives Astros First Sweep Of Season

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Michael Bourn’s two-run single in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, as the Houston Astros completed a three- game sweep of the Cubs with a 3-1 win at Wrigley Field.

Bourn finished 2-for-5 with a pair of steals while Jason Michaels hit a solo homer for Houston, which earned its first three-game sweep of the Cubs since September 1-3, 2008.

Brett Myers (2-4) worked six effective innings, giving up only one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. The right-hander had dropped four straight decisions over an eight-start span coming into the contest.

Kosuke Fukudome had a homer to account for the only offense for the Cubs, who have lost five of six.

Doug Davis (0-4) allowed eight hits and three runs with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. The veteran lefty did not issue a walk.


Myers, Astros, Go For Sweep In Wrigley

(Sports Network) – It has been close to two months since Houston Astros starter Brett Myers has last won a game, but he may stand a good chance of getting on track given that he is facing the Chicago Cubs this afternoon.

Myers aims for his seventh straight victory over the Cubs and will look to pitch the Astros to their first three-game sweep of their NL Central rival since 2008 in today’s finale at Wrigley Field.

The right-handed Myers comes into this start just 1-4 with a 5.11 earned run average in 11 starts. However, that lone win came back on April 12 versus the Cubs after he threw seven innings of one-run ball. Myers improved to 6-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts against Chicago and is 11-3 with a save and a 2.15 ERA against the club lifetime.

Myers has dropped four straight decisions over an eight-start span since his lone win, allowing at least four earned runs in six of those games. Houston, meanwhile, has lost each of his last five starts.

The 30-year-old did leave Friday’s game versus Arizona with a 6-4 lead after yielding a pair of homers over 5 2/3 innings, but did not get a decision after the Astros eventually lost, 7-6.

Houston will hope that Myers can build on just its fourth winning streak of the season today, as the team has taken the first two games of this series after losing three in a row. A victory this afternoon would match the Astros’ longest winning streak of the season — a three-game run from April 30-May 3 — and give them their first three-game sweep of the Cubs since Sept. 1-3, 2008 at Wrigley Field.

Hunter Pence continued his offensive surge in last night’s 7-3 win, belting a three-run homer to cap a six-run ninth inning off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. Pence ended with three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Pinch-hitter Matt Downs hit a game-tying two-run double off Marmol, who came into the game with a 0.43 ERA over his previous 20 appearances, and Michael Bourn plated the go-ahead run with an RBI single.

Making his major league debut, 20-year-old Jordan Lyles threw seven shutout innings for Houston before running into trouble in the eighth. He did not record an out in the frame and was charged with two runs — one earned — in a no-decision that left manager Brad Mills impressed.

“That’s one of his biggest assets, he’s mature beyond his years,” Mills said of Lyles. “He had mound presence beyond his years. It was very significant how we went about it and did everything.”

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano also earned a tough-luck no-decision after fanning seven batters over eight innings of one-run ball. Marmol, meanwhile, suffered his third blown save of the season.

“You have those days and no one feels worse than Marm,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said afterward. “He’ll be back out there [Wednesday] to save a game for us, given the same opportunity. Too bad he had a rough night tonight.”

Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI for Chicago, which has lost four of five.

Doug Davis will try to salvage the finale of this set for the Cubs, but he has lost all three of his starts since joining the rotation in mid-May. He has allowed 14 runs (10 earned) over 13 1/3 innings for a 6.75 ERA and gave up four runs — two earned — on four hits and six walks over 4 2/3 innings of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday — his 300th career game.

The 35-year-old southpaw has struggled lifetime versus the Astros. He has lost each of his last four starts against them and recorded an 8.24 ERA over that stretch, and is just 3-11 with a 4.59 ERA all-time against Houston. However, Davis hasn’t faced the Astros since May 13, 2007.

The Cubs took two of three meetings with Houston at Minute Maid Park from April 11-13 of this season. The Astros went 11-7 in last year’s series with the Cubs.


Marmol's Implosion Keeps Lyles From An Unjust Debut Loss, Astros Win 7-3

The Astros bullpen tried hard, but they couldn’t pin a loss on their rookie starter thanks to a similar implosion by the Cubs bullpen.

Jordan Lyles was on his game in his first Major League start. He fell behind some batters in the first inning, but showed a good arsenal of off-speed pitches and generally kept the Cubs at bay, with only a few hard-hit balls to the Cubs credit. The lack of scoring and a troubling bullpen combined to quash any chances he had of a win though. Lyles allowed a leadoff double to Geovany Soto to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, and then went to third on a sacrifice attempt and threw the ball away. At that point, Brad Mills yanked him, and he left with a final line of seven innings, two runs (zero earned), five hits allowed, and four strikeouts.

Following Lyles’ departure, the Astros bullpen went right to work making sure he wouldn’t escape with the win. Sergio Escalona came in to record an out on a sacrifice bunt, and then Wilton Lopez allowed a pair of doubles to bring the lead to 3-1. Carlos Marmol returned the favor in the top of the inning by allowing the Astros three straight hits to tie the game. Matt Downs had the big blow with a double that knocked in both runs, then after a sacrifice bunt, Michael Bourn singled him in to give the Astros a 4-3 lead. Hunter Pence capped the rally with a three-run homer to send Marmol out of the game. Marmol’s ERA skyrocketed from 1.17 to 3.47.

Mark Melancon was able to get the Cubs 1-2-3 in the ninth and the Astros came away with an incredibly impressive win.


Jordan Lyles To Make MLB Debut Against Cubs Today, What Should Astros Fans Expect?

Service time issues forced Jordan Lyles to Oklahoma City after a sterling spring training slate where he clearly out-pitched his competition for the fifth starter slot, but now the one piece of the Astros future that may clearly soon be ready for the bigs will draw his first big league start against the Cubs. Lyles, 20, had compiled a 3.2 ERA for the RedHawks, with a 41:16 K/BB ratio and 1.23 WHIP. His strikeout rate has tumbled a bit from where he was at earlier levels, which should give anyone thinking he’s going to be an ace some pause, but he’s got a lot going for him. 

Lyles works with three solid pitches: a decent fastball, an advanced changeup, and a plus curveball. In a lot of ways, you could say that he has “pitchability,” in that while his raw stuff is hardly excellent, he gets good results out of the arsenal he has. The problem with Jordan Lyles, Houston Astro, is that if you don’t miss a lot of bats behind this defense, the results haven’t been pretty so far this year. Brett Wallace and Carlos Lee are butchers, and other than Michael Bourn the Astros don’t have a real plus defender at this point. That could spell trouble on a number of levels, but Lyles could also benefit early from a lack of advanced scouting on his stuff. At least he avoided Wrigley Field in the day, where the ball can really start to carry. 

David Coleman over at The Crawfish Boxes filed his take on Lyles’ first start, and it wasn’t exactly optimistic (what is about the Astros these days though?):

That time appears to be Tuesday, as Lyles will join the team this weekend before starting against the Cubs on Tuesday. I’m just not sure he’s ready. As has been pointed out on this site before (by people smarter than me), Lyles has a pretty high hit rate and his strikeout rate has plummeted in Triple-A. His ERA looks good, but that could be an illusion. His home run rate is fairly low, and his batting average on balls in play is slightly below average at .309. He’s also got his highest LOB percentage since he was at Lexington.

Maybe Lyles is just learning how to pitch. He’s not walking batters, which is a good indication. He’s probably going to take some lumps, so I guess the Astros figure it’s time for him to take those lumps at the major league level. For better or worse, we’ll see what the organization’s top prospect has over the next few months. I hope that’s a good thing.

I would add that considering how short Wandy Rodriguez’s DL stint is expected to last, Lyles might not be up for good. It may just be that he was the only RedHawk that could be trusted to give the Astros five innings. Either way, even if Lyles does turn out to be overmatched at the bigs, at least it’s somebody who is actually young being overmatched. 

My prediction? 5.2 innings pitched, eight hits, four runs (three earned), three strikeouts, and a walk. 


Astros Decisively Beat Cubs In Slopfest, 12-7

When things heat up at Wrigley, balls tend to start flying. This was the case today, as the Astros and Cubs socked a combined five homers, four by the Astros, in a sloppy butt-kicking that saw several errors. The teams combined for 26 hits and five errors, with multiple other gaffes that weren’t noted in the box score. Hunter Pence’s misplay of a ball in right led to a Blake DeWitt triple to put the Cubs up 5-3.

DeWitt would later return the favor by booting a Chris Johnson “double” into the corner to let the Astros extend their lead to 9-6. No pitchers came out of the game unscathed, but Aneury Rodriguez was picked up by the Astros bullpen (yes, that isn’t irony) after going four innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. Sergio Escalona, Enerio Del Rosario, and Wilton Lopez formed a bridge to Mark Melancon with four innings of two hit ball.

Rodrigo Lopez allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in 4.2 innings, but Jeff Samardzija took the loss in relief by allowing two runs in a very shaky 1.2 innings. No Cubs pitchers escaped unscathed, with all of them allowing at least one run.


Astros Kicks Off Week-Long Road Trip With Memorial Day Matchup Against Cubs

Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - Aneury Rodriguez (0-2, 4.98) Chicago - Rodrigo Lopez (0-0, 0.00)

(Sports Network) - The Chicago Cubs will renew their rivalry with their NL Central-foe Houston Astros this afternoon in the opener of a three-game series from Wrigley Field.

The Cubs took two of three meetings with Houston from April 11-13 at Minute Maid Park and have won five of the last nine matchups between the two ballclubs. The Astros went 11-7 in last season's series with the Cubs.

Chicago salvaged the finale of a three-game series versus Pittsburgh with Sunday's 3-2 win thanks to Starlin Castro's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning. Castro plated Kosuke Fukudome, who doubled to lead off the inning and went to third on Darwin Barney's sacrifice bunt. Aramis Ramirez homered and Koyie Hill drove in a run for the Cubs, who improved to 3-3 on the nine-game homestand.

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster gave up two runs over six innings to earn the win.

"Dempster was great," said Cubs manager Mike Quade. "It was just a good win. We played good baseball."

Rodrigo Lopez will make his Cubs debut Monday and was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. The right-hander was acquired last week in a minor league trade with the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Ryan Buchter. Lopez made 33 starts for Arizona a year ago, compiling a 7-16 record with a 5.00 ERA, and is 1-2 in four career starts against Houston.

Lopez is expected to throw to catcher Geovany Soto, who was activated from the disabled list on Sunday with a groin injury.

Houston will begin a seven-game road trip Monday against the Cubs and Padres, and was swept in three games by the Diamondbacks over the weekend. In Sunday's 4-2 loss at Minute Maid Park, starter J.A. Happ pitched well in the no- decision and held Arizona to a run over six innings. Happ also homered for the first time in his career.

"At some point, we've got to find a way to win those games," Happ said on the team's website. "That's the way it goes. A tough one today, a tough series, but we've got to keep fighting and see what happens."

Relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino was saddled with the loss for allowing three runs in the top of the eighth inning with the Astros clinging to a slim 2-1 lead. Hunter Pence had two hits for Houston, which went 2-4 on a six-game homestand and lost for the 10th time in 14 tries.

Taking the mound for the struggling 'Stros Monday will be rookie Aneury Rodriguez. The righty is 0-2 in 14 games (5 starts) this season and last pitched in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Los Angeles. He did not record a decision that day and held the Dodgers to a run in six innings of work.

Rodriguez has lasted at least five innings in the past five trips to the mound and will make his first start against the Cubs. He has faced Chicago twice in relief this season, pitching 1 2/3 innings with a 5.40 ERA.

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