The Cubs improved to 2-2 on a nine-game road trip by winning last night’s series opener, 5-4. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run double in the first inning for the quick strike, while Starlin Castro had three singles and scored three runs.
“It was a good win,” Dempster said. “Any time you win the first game it’s huge. We had a lot of energy right out of the gate.”
Chicago was coming off a series loss in Milwaukee and last won back-to-back games on April 4-5.
Bill Hall hit his first homer of the season for the Astros and Angel Sanchez added the first one of his career, a two-run shot that pulled Houston to within a run. However, the Astros couldn’t pull any closer and have lost three of four to begin a 10-game homestand while sitting just 2-8 on the season.
Nelson Figueroa lasted only four innings, allowing five runs to fall to 0-2.
“I am not somebody that should be a work in progress,” Figueroa said. “I am frustrated. I hate losing and I hate putting our team behind.”
Ace Brett Myers takes his turn for Houston tonight and is still searching for his first win of the season following two no-decisions despite allowing just three earned runs over his first 13 1/3 innings.
The right-hander’s last start came on Thursday against Cincinnati and he allowed two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings of his team’s 3-2 win.
Myers, 30, has done well against the Cubs in his career, going 10-3 with a save and 2.21 ERA in 17 appearances, including 13 starts.
Russell has made 59 career relief appearances, including two this season. He was credited with a win last Tuesday against Arizona, though he gave up two hits and allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.
“If I do more than one start, awesome,” Russell said on Chicago’s website. “Anytime you can show somebody you can do anything out of the ordinary, it’s a good thing. I’m in the big leagues. That’s all that matters.”
The 25-year-old faced Houston five times during his rookie season last year, holding them without a hit over 3 1/3 innings.
Houston won 11 of its 18 matchups with Chicago last year.