(Sports Network) - Aiming for their very first three-game win streak of the season, the Chicago Cubs try to make it a clean sweep against the disappointing Houston Astros in a National League Central showdown at Wrigley Field this afternoon.
The Cubs last celebrated three consecutive victories near the end of the 2010 campaign when they closed out a four-game set against the San Diego Padres on the road at the end of September and then took the first two games versus these same Astros before losing the final game of the season.
On Saturday the Cubs held the visitors to just a single run on nine hits, en route to the 5-1 triumph. Starting pitcher Randy Wells earned his first victory in nearly four months, allowing five hits and one run, striking out four and walking two over six innings for his first positive outcome since an April 4 win over Arizona.
"I thought he started to get the ball up a bit later in the outing, but it's understandable," said Cubs manager Mike Quade. "He made a lot of pitches, but I made the decision for a lot of reasons. If we get him through six, with a chance to win, with the bullpen throwing as good as they did, it seemed the right thing to do. If he can build on that, that's fantastic."
Geovany Soto homered and drove in two runs for the hosts to help carry the offense. Marlon Byrd also hit a solo home run and Starlin Castro plated a run for the Cubs as they generated five runs on just six hits on the day.
Carlos Lee finished 3-for-4 and drove in the lone run for the Astros, who have dropped four of their last six and remain the weakest team in all of baseball with a mere 33 wins in 100 opportunities. The team's run differential (minus-117) is by far the worst in the majors as only one other team falls into triple digits in that category.
Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez suffered the loss despite yielding only two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts in seven full innings of action.
Just 20 years of age, Jordan Lyles has been tabbed as the starter for the Astros this afternoon, searching for his first major league win in the process.
Lyles, a native of North Carolina, has been up with the big club only since the end of May, but has yet to taste any measure of success. On Monday he lasted 8 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits -- two home runs -- while striking out six, but still he was charged with his fifth loss of the campaign.
As for the Cubs, they plan on following the lead set but Matt Garza when he takes the mound for the hosts today. The right-hander, 0-2 in his career against Houston after spending the first five years of his tenure in the American League, is winless in the month of July and has just one decision to show for his efforts through those four outings.
On Tuesday the Fresno State product sized up the Philadelphia Phillies at home and allowed just a single run on four hits, walking three and striking out five over the course of seven innings, but he still failed to factor into the decision which turned into a 4-2 victory for the visitors.
Houston, which continues a 10-game road trip this coming week with stops in St. Louis and Milwaukee, is actually tied with the Cubs as the third-best hitting team in the NL at the moment, the clubs both batting a collective .261. Ironically, both pitching staffs enter play on Sunday with the very same ERA (4.62), but that has them tied for last in the league at this juncture.