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Lilly strong as Cubs cruise by Astros

Jul 15, 2007 - 1:05 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Ted Lilly and the Chicago Cubs have hit their stride.

Lilly pitched eight outstanding innings and Aramis Ramirez drove in four runs as the Cubs posted a 9-3 victory Saturday over the Houston Astros.

Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer and Cesar Izturis scored twice for Chicago, which has clinched its third straight home series win.

"That's the thing for us right now," Soriano said. "We are starting to feel comfortable as a team. When you're relaxed, you always play better."

The Cubs also closed within three games of the National League Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee, which has lost six of seven, hosts the Colorado Rockies Saturday night.

Lilly (9-4) yielded only a run, four hits and a walk in winning his fifth straight decision. The lefthander, who struck out seven, is 5-0 in his last six starts.

"One of the things I'm doing better is locating my fastball," Lilly said. "I haven't really thought about it too much. I'm always trying to improve on little things from start to start."

After the Astros touched Lilly in the first inning, when Chris Burke led off with a triple to right and scored on a groundout by rookie Hunter Pence, the Cubs began their surge in the fourth.

Izturis hit a one-out single before moving to third on a double by Derrek Lee. Ramirez followed with a double to center, plating both runners for a 2-1 lead.

Ramirez then scored when Astros catcher Brad Ausmus threw wide of first base on an infield single by Mark DeRosa.

The Cubs broke open the game over the next two innings against All-Star Roy Oswalt. With the bases loaded in the fifth, Ramirez hit a two-run single to left field to increase Chicago's lead to 5-1.

"When you bring in a lot of new guys to a team like we did, it takes a while to jell," Ramirez said. "Every team has to get used to playing together. It appears our adjustment has kicked in."

DeRosa and Jacque Jones opened the sixth with singles and, one out later, Lilly helped his own cause with an RBI single. Soriano then deposited a 1-2 pitch from Oswalt into the bleachers in left field to provide a 9-1 bulge.

The blast ended a 10-game homerless drought for the Cubs, their longest since the 1988 season.

Oswalt (8-6) was tagged for nine runs - a career-high eight earned - and 10 hits en route to his fourth straight loss against Chicago. The 29-year-old righthander is now 10-10 lifetime vs. the Cubs.

"I was missing with my pitches after the fourth inning," Oswalt said. "I was trying to pitch to the bottom of the zone. In the sixth, I was running out of gas. I just kind of left the ball up for Soriano to swing at."

Morgan Ensberg and Eric Bruntlett each had RBI doubles in the ninth for Houston, which has lost five of seven games.

"We should have hit better today," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "It was a perfect day to hit with the wind blowing out. We just didn't get it done."






  • 10
    roots
    joestilwell Added 5 roots

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 11:21 PM


  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 7 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 3 2 4 0 0 x 9 13 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - ROY OSWALT, DAVE BORKOWSKI (6TH), DAN WHEELER (8TH) AND BRAD
    AUSMUS
    CHN - TED LILLY, MIKE WUERTZ (9TH) AND ROB BOWEN

    HOME RUNS: HOU - NONE
    CHN - ALFONSO SOR

    Jul 14 6:33 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND RULE DOUBLE BY ERIC BRUNTLETT SCORED MORGAN ENSBERG.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, E BRUNTLETT ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    CHICAGO CUBS 9 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B AUSMUS (.250, 1-FOR-3)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 6:31 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MORGAN ENSBERG SCORED MARK LORETTA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M ENSBERG ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    CHICAGO CUBS 9 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: E BRUNTLETT (.279, 0-FOR-3)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 6:30 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Roadie Added 5 roots

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 6:23 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY ALFONSO SORIANO (16) TO LEFT CENTER
    WITH 1 OUT IN THE 6TH OFF ROY OSWALT SCORED JACQUE JONES AND TED
    LILLY.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1, CHICAGO CUBS 9
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: C IZTURIS (.245, 1-FOR-2, BB)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 5:43 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY TED LILLY SCORED MARK DEROSA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, T LILLY ON FIRST, J JONES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 6 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: A SORIANO (.311, 1-FOR-3)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 5:40 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ARAMIS RAMIREZ SCORED ALFONSO SORIANO AND CESAR
    IZTURIS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, A RAMIREZ ON FIRST, D LEE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 5 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M FONTENOT (.349, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 5:23 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY BRAD AUSMUS ALLOWED ARAMIS RAMIREZ TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, M DEROSA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 3 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: J JONES (.232, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 4:58 PM


  • NL
    AT CHICAGO CUBS - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND RULE DOUBLE BY ARAMIS RAMIREZ SCORED CESAR IZTURIS
    AND DERREK LEE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, A RAMIREZ ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    CHICAGO CUBS 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M FONTENOT (.352, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 4:53 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 1 1 1 0
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: HOU - ROY OSWALT
    CHN - TED LILLY

    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: A SORIANO (.311, 15 HR, 33 RBI)
    C IZTURIS (.242, 0 HR, 8 RBI)
    D LEE (.330, 6 HR, 44 RBI)

    Astros vs. CubsJul 14 4:08 PM