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Cubs Drop Season Finale To Astros

Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster (Getty)

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HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros had so much fun over the last few months of the season that they weren’t ready for it to end.

Carlos Lee homered and Tommy Manzella drove in two runs to lead the Astros to a 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in their season finale Sunday.

The victory broke a three-game losing streak for the Astros, who matched their run total from the previous three games combined. They went 59-52 since June 1 after going 17-34 through May.

“I wish we had a few more games,” manager Brad Mills said.

Nelson Figueroa (7-4) tossed six sharp innings of six-hit ball and struck out a season-high eight. He was pitching on three days’ rest after Wandy Rodriguez could not make his scheduled start because of back spasms. He got Houston’s last two wins of the year after also pitching six shutout innings in his previous start, a 2-0 win over the Reds on Wednesday.

“It felt great,” Figueroa said. “I wanted to go out there and put my best effort out to help the team win and give the fans something to look forward to for next year.”

Brandon Lyon worked a perfect ninth to complete the shutout after Fernando Abad and Wilton Lopez combined for two hitless innings.

“It was good to see the bullpen do a great job,” Mills said. “That was special to see those guys continue to throw the ball like they have.”

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (15-12) yielded nine hits and three earned runs with seven strikeouts in six innings.

“I just got outpitched,” Dempster said. “Figueroa threw the ball really well and pitched deep. It would have been nice to go out on a winning note in the last game of the year, but at the same time it doesn’t take away from how we’ve played down the stretch.”

Lee hit his 24th homer, a solo shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field to push Houston’s lead to 3-0 in the third. Brett Wallace led off the fourth with his first career triple and scored on a single by Manzella.

Chris Johnson singled and scored on a single by Manzella to make it 1-0 in the first inning. A single by Figueroa and an error by catcher Koyie Hill allowed Humberto Quintero to score later in the inning and put Houston ahead 2-0.

Figueroa retired eight of his first nine batters before walking Blake DeWitt with two outs in the third. Darwin Barney singled after that, but Marlon Byrd, who finished 0 for 4, struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs got consecutive singles by Aramis Ramirez and Xavier Nady with one out in the fifth. Figueroa intentionally walked Hill to load the bases before striking out Dempster to escape the jam.

Chicago took the first two games in Houston and won eight of 12 series after interim manager Mike Quade took over.

“I’m just greedy,” Quade said. “You get two, and it’s great to win a series, but you’d like to come out and win for the club, win for Demp and all the rest of them. I wish we had done a little more offensively. But Figueroa pitched great.”

NOTES: An emotional Geoff Blum said after the game that the Astros will not pick up his option for 2011. … Houston RHP Jeff Fulchino is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on inflamed tissue in his right elbow Monday. … Astros LHP Tim Byrdak has a sports hernia and will be examined Oct. 12 to see if surgery is needed. If it is, it will be done on Oct. 14. … SS Starlin Castro was out of the lineup after improving his batting average to .300 on Saturday. He is the first Cubs rookie to finish a season with a .300 average since Bill Madlock hit .313 in 1974. … Houston center fielder Michael Bourn missed his 13th straight game with a strained right oblique muscle.

Updated October 3, 2010

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