CHICAGO (AP) – Randy Wells pitched six strong innings to earn his first win since April 4 and Geovany Soto added a solo shot and an RBI single in the ninth to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 victory over the major league-worst Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon.
Marlon Byrd also homered for the Cubs, who will try to win three in a row on Sunday for the first time this season.
The Astros have lost 14 of its last 18 road games and six straight overall.
Wells (2-3) allowed one run on five hits. He struck out four and pitched around two walks.
Chicago’s bullpen backed up Wells. Marshall struck out pinch-hitter Matt Downs to end the eighth, leaving runners at first and second. Cubs closer Carlos Marmol was back in his normal role after struggling with control issues.
Cubs manager Mike Quade temporaily removed Marmol as the closer earlier in the week. In his five previous appearances, Marmol allowed eight walks, but in a non-save situation on Saturday, Marmol was just as wild. After allowing a leadoff single, he hit Carlos Corporan, but then rebounded by retiring the next three batters.
Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-7) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
After winning in his season debut against the Diamondbacks, Wells went nine straight outings without picking up win. The right-hander was 0-3 with a 7.38 ERA in his nine previous starts and gave up at least four runs in five consecutive starts.
Wells, who gave up a combined 12 runs in the first innings of his previous five outings, allowed a leadoff single to Michael Bourn and walked Angel Sanchez to start the game. After Hunter Pence popped out, Wells ended the inning by getting Carlos Lee swinging and Chris Johnson looking.
In the second inning, Byrd gave the Cubs a lead with a home run to center field on a 2-2 pitch from Rodriguez. It was Byrd’s fifth of the season.
Soto led off the fifth with a solo shot on an 0-2 pitch. It was Soto’s ninth of the season.
Lee cut the Cubs’ lead with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Sanchez scored from second, just beating Byrd’s throw from center.
The Cubs added insurance runs in the ninth. Kosuke Fukudome, who came in as a defensive replacement hit a triple off Astros reliever Sergio Escalona. Fukudome ended up scoring on Starlin Castro’s infield single off reliever Fernando Rodriguez. With the bases loaded, Soto hit a hard grounder at third baseman Chris Johnson. Johnson made a diving stop, but made an errant throw to first allowing two runs to score to make it 5-1.
NOTES: Astros third base coach Dave Clark missed the game to attend a funeral. Bench coach Al Pedrique filled in for Clark. … The announced attendance was 40,486 putting the Cubs over the 2 million mark for the 2011 season. … Corporan left the game after getting hit on the left heel.
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