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Astros beat Cubs on Blum's 2nd straight winner

Jun 11, 2009 - 11:36 PM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON(AP) -- Geoff Blum beat the Houston Astros with a home run in the 2005 World Series when he played for the Chicago White Sox.

Now, he's delivered game-winning hits for the Astros on consecutive days.

Blum singled to down the right-field line off Jose Ascanio in the 13th inning on Thursday to score Hunter Pence and lift the Astros to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.

On Wednesday, Blum singled with the bases loaded in the ninth to lift Houston to another 2-1 victory over the Cubs.

The third baseman is the first Houston player with winning hits in back-to-back games since Derek Bell did it on July 20-21, 1996, against Atlanta.

"I'm not sure the technical term, but deja vu is something that happens over and over," Blum said. "Right now, it happened twice. It feels good. It's just nice to win."

Derrek Lee homered for the Cubs with one out in the ninth, but the Cubs mustered only six hits and stranded eight runners.

Chicago scored three runs or fewer for the eighth time in 12 games and frustrated manager Lou Piniella says he has not solution for his team's offensive doldrums.

"They're going to have to find it," he said. "It sounds cruel, it sounds harsh, but it's reality. What am I going to do? Just keep running them out there and hope it gets better. That's all you can do."

Ascanio (0-1) set down the Astros in order in the 12th, then walked Pence with one out in the 13th. Jason Michaels struck out, with Pence stealing second on the last pitch.

Ascanio intentionally walked Lance Berkman, who's sitting on 299 career homers, before Blum delivered again. The Astros poured out of the dugout and mobbed Blum near first base for the second straight night.

"That's one that makes me jump up and down," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "I don't usually do that. I usually stay pretty calm, but that was a great win."

Jeff Fulchino (2-1) pitched three scoreless innings. The Astros won for the eighth time in 11 games and now start a nine-game road trip, their longest of the season.

Houston starter Russ Ortiz pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out five to preserve a 1-0 lead. Ortiz, usually a middle reliever, was making his first start since May 7.

The Houston bullpen allowed only one walk in three innings before Lee tied it with his home run off LaTroy Hawkins. Fulchino allowed only one hit after that.

"It was just an all-out bullpen effort today," said Ortiz.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead off Ryan Dempster in the first inning. Michael Bourn opened with a double, Miguel Tejada singled and Carlos Lee hit a sacrifice fly.

Ortiz allowed only two hits through the first five innings, and the Astros finished two of those innings with double plays.

Chicago had two runners aboard in the sixth. Ortiz struck out Ryan Theriot before Houston manager Cecil Cooper brought in reliever Tim Byrdak, who struck out Kosuke Fukudome. Alberto Arias replaced Byrdak and got Lee on a grounder.

"When we had chances, we're swinging at bad pitches out of the (strike) zone, we can't make contact," Piniella said. "Come on. This is major league baseball. I know the game isn't the easiest in the world to play, because I played it for a long time. But it's not this hard, come on."

Micah Hoffpauir led off the seventh with a drive to Tal's Hill in deep center. Bourn backtracked up the incline, fell down and made the catch while almost lying on his back.

"I just reacted," Bourn said. "My ability helped me out that time."

Dempster allowed just five hits - two by Ortiz - between the second and seventh.

Chris Sampson, who threw two scoreless innings to earn the win on Wednesday, relieved Arias in the eighth and retired the Cubs in order.

Hawkins started the ninth for the Astros. After Fukudome grounded out, Lee drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats, his seventh home run of the season.

NOTES: The Cubs went to extra innings for the fifth time in eight games. ... Ortiz has thrown 17 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest stretch by an Astros pitcher this season. ... Tejada has 1,999 career hits. ... Cubs starters have thrown at least six innings in eight straight games.






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  • NL
    FINAL 13
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    - - - - - - - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
    HOUSTON 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    10 11 12 13 R H E
    -- -- -- -- - - -
    CHICAGO CUBS 0 0 0 0 1 6 1
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 1 2 11 0 (FINAL 13)

    BATTERIES: CHN

    Jun 11 6:13 PM


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    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY GEOFF BLUM SCORED HUNTER PENCE.
    FINAL SCORE: HOUSTON 2, CHICAGO CUBS 1

    Cubs 1, Astros 2  Bot 13, 0 OutsJun 11 6:13 PM
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    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY DERREK LEE (7) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF LATROY HAWKINS.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 1, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR CHICAGO CUBS: M HOFFPAUIR (.262, 0-FOR-3)

    Cubs 1, Astros 1  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 11 4:46 PM
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    Cubs 0, Astros 1  Bot 7, 0 OutsJun 11 4:17 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY CARLOS LEE SCORED MICHAEL BOURN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M TEJADA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHICAGO CUBS 0
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.247, 11 HR, 33 RBI)

    Cubs 0, Astros 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 11 2:19 PM