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Cubs nip Astros in battle of NL Central bottom-dwellers

Aug 16, 2011 - 7:00 AM Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Carlos Pena and Geovany Soto both hit two-run doubles, as the Chicago Cubs downed the Houston Astros, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game series.

Soto finished 3-for-4 with a pair of two-baggers, while Aramis Ramirez went 3- for-5 and scored a run for the Cubs, winners of 12 of their last 15.

Rodrigo Lopez (4-3) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits over 5 1/3 innings for the win. He walked two and struck out three.

Kerry Wood tossed a perfect ninth to record his first save of the season.

"He's throwing the ball well and has been," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Wood. "When you do commit to giving (Carlos) Marmol a day off, it's nice have him in the back."

In his second career start, Henry Sosa (0-2) allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks while fanning six in as many frames to suffer the loss.

Matt Downs went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of RBI for the Astros, who have dropped seven straight. They scored just one run over a three-game sweep at Los Angeles this past weekend.

"Everyone knows we're young," Downs said. "Teams go through slumps like that where they don't score runs."

The Cubs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first. Darwin Barney drew a one-out walk and Ramirez singled to place runners at the corners. Pena's double onto the hill in center plated Barney and Ramirez.

J.D. Martinez singled to begin the home fourth. Two batters later, Downs' soft fly fell into short right. Tyler Colvin tried to get Downs at second, but his throw got away, allowing Martinez to score. Brian Bogusevic followed with a fly to center. Marlon Byrd made the catch and cut down the tagging Downs at third.

An inning later, Clint Barmes led off with a double, but Lopez retired Humberto Quintero, Sosa and Jason Bourgeois to strand the tying run.

In the top of the sixth, consecutive one-out singles by Byrd and Reed Johnson placed runners at the corners. Soto followed a Colvin flyout with a two-run double into the corner in left.

The Astros made it a 4-3 game in the home half. Jose Altuve reached on a Starlin Castro error and Martinez followed with a walk. After a Carlos Lee popout, Downs ripped a double into left-center, scoring both runners. James Russell spelled Lopez and retired pinch-hitter Jason Michaels and Barmes.

Game Notes

Sosa was acquired from the Giants on July 19 as part of the trade that sent Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco...Prior to the game, the Astros acquired 19- year-old outfielder Domingo Santana from the Phillies. He was the player to be named in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia...On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that its owners will not vote this week on the sale of the Astros to Houston businessman Jim Crane. The process remains ongoing...On Monday, maligned Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano told Comcast SportsNet Chicago that he wishes to remain with the team...The Cubs recalled pitcher Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa and assigned outfielder Garrett Schlecht to the Arizona League Cubs prior to the game.

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    Cubs 4, Astros 3  FinalAug 16 5:07 PM

  • CHICAGO: 4
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    Aug 15 11:13 PM

  • Matt Downs double to left center scored Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez wtih one out. Runner on second and Brian Bogusevic due up.

    Cubs 4, Astros 3  Bot 6, 1 OutAug 15 10:02 PM
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  • Rodrigo Lopez grounded out short to first to end the inning.

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    Cubs 2, Astros 1  Top 5, 0 OutsAug 15 9:13 PM

  • Matt Downs double to right. On the play, J.D. Martinez advances to home on Tyler Colvin's throwing error with one out. Runner on second and Brian Bogusevic due up.

    Cubs 2, Astros 1  Bot 4, 1 OutAug 15 9:11 PM

  • Carlos Pena double to center scored Darwin Barney and Aramis Ramirez with one out. Runner on second and Marlon Byrd due up.

    Cubs 2, Astros 0  Top 1, 1 OutAug 15 8:13 PM

  • CHICAGO: 0
    HOUSTON: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Aug 15 8:06 PM
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