Pence leads Astros to walk-off win over CubsJul 19, 2008 - 4:12 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Houston Astros righthander Brian Moehler spent the All-Star break with his family at their lake house in South Carolina, getting completely away from baseball. He didn't even watch the All-Star Game.
Astros right fielder Hunter Pence spent all but one day of the break working in the batting cages at Minute Maid Park, the only player in sight.
Moehler's pitching and Pence's hitting combined to beat the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, on Friday.
Pence doubled in Miguel Tejada with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth off Cubs reliever Bob Howry (3-3) after Moehler kept the National League Central Division-leading Cubs in check for seven innings.
"It was like any guy going on vacation, getting away from work," Moehler said of the break. "Maybe the four days off (the Astros did not play Thursday) was good for me because the hitters have to get back in the groove."
Pence, who went 3-for-4, said he worked on his hitting-eye in the batting cages over the break.
"I bunted a whole lot of sliders," he said. "I didn't want to swing a whole bunch and tire myself out. I tried to get the rhythm, because I hadn't been hitting the ball well. I feel a lot better. It definitely gave me some confidence. Before, I felt a little lost."
Pence hit .322 last year as a rookie, but posted a disappointing .263 for the first half this season.
Tejada, who was 3-for-4, led off the ninth with a double, setting up Pence's clutch hit.
"I was trying to hit the ball up the middle, at the worst get (Tejeda) over to third," Pence said.
"I got some of them up," Howry said of his pitches. "The one to Tejada was at his shoulders. I was trying to get him to chase it, but he still got to it."
Moehler gave up a homer to Edmonds in the fifth and very little else, allowing four hits, striking out three and walking one.
"For the most part, he threw strike one and that's how you defend good hitters," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said.
"I just worked the ball in and out, up and down tonight," said Moehler, who began the season in the bullpen. "I just tried to get ahead of the hitters. The last few starts I've been a little nit picky around the zone, trying to hit the corners. Tonight, I just tried to hit a little more part of the plate."
Geoff Geary (2-1) relieved Moehler and pitched two perfect innings to earn the win.
"I love it, the adrenaline, the energy," Geary said of entering a tie game in the top of eighth. "Playing in Philadelphia (the last four years) it seemed like every game was the World Series. It was a good win, let (the Cubs) know we may be at the bottom end, but we're still battling."
Chicago starter Ted Lilly cruised through six innings but gave up a game-tying solo homer by Carlos Lee in the seventh. Tejada and Pence followed Lee's shot with singles, but Lilly worked his way out of the jam, retiring Kaz Matsui on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded for the final out of the frame.
"I had the feeling it was going to be a game where we had to limit our mistakes," Lilly said. "Unfortunately, I made one late to a pretty good hitter. I'm happy with the way I threw the ball, but I can't say I'm happy with the result.
"You've got to give them credit, especially Brian (Moehler). It didn't look like he left many over the plate."
Lilly gave up six hits and two walks while striking out six in seven innings. The lefthander, who beat Houston at Minute Maid Park on May 19, has lost only twice since May 1 - including his previous start on July 10 against the Cincinnati Reds.
"We scored two prior to the break and one tonight," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I don't know if that's too much rest or too little. Lilly pitched well enough to win, but so did their guy."
Houston, which ranks 12th in the National League in runs scored, continued to struggle offensively. Over the first six innings, the closest it came to scoring was in the third, when Matsui tripled with two outs but was stranded by Darin Erstad, who grounded out.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
HOUSTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 8 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: CHN - TED LILLY, NEAL COTTS (8TH), BOBBY HOWRY (8TH) AND GEOVANY
HOU - BRIAN MOEHLER, GEOFF GEARY (8TH) AND J.R. TOWLES,
BRAD AUSMUS (8TH)
HOME RUNS: CHN -
Jul 18 10:35 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY HUNTER PENCE SCORED MIGUEL TEJADA.
FINAL SCORE: HOUSTON 2, CHICAGO CUBS 1
Cubs 1, Astros 2 Bot 9, 0 OutsJul 18 10:35 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS LEE (22) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
7TH OFF TED LILLY.
CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1, HOUSTON 1
DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M TEJADA (.276, 1-FOR-2)
Cubs 1, Astros 1 Bot 7, 0 OutsJul 18 9:48 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY JIM EDMONDS (11) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
5TH OFF BRIAN MOEHLER.
CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1, HOUSTON 0
DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M DEROSA (.282, 0-FOR-1)
Cubs 1, Astros 0 Top 5, 0 OutsJul 18 9:07 PM
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