Cubs manager Lou Piniella has a simple strategy for his players: just win each series.
While that may be a bit optimistic, his team followed their leader’s instructions to the letter by defeating the Houston Astros 11-6 on Wednesday night in the rubber match of the series.
After splitting the initial two games, the Cubs bats got off to a blistering start against Astros starter Brian Moehler. They batted around in each of the first two innings and built an early 8-0 lead.
Even on a night when Cubs starter Ted Lilly didn’t have much going for him, the offense was enough to stave off the Houston bats. Despite four Houston homers, including consecutive shots in the third inning, Lilly was able to get through five innings to qualify for the win.
Koyie Hill started at catcher for the Cubs, in place of Geo Soto, who was nursing a sore shoulder. Otherwise, they had their normal lineup against right-handed pitching.
And that lineup includes Mike Fontenot, who continued his fast start to the new season with two hits including a home run, and Aramis Ramirez added four hiits of his own. Both drove in four runs on the night.
Even Kosuke Fukudome got into the act—he got his first hits of the young season by going 4-for-5, with a home run.
Milton Bradley still has no hits in a Cubs uniform, though he did get on base four times.
Derrek Lee continued to demonstrate why he shouldn’t be hitting in the third slot as he went 1-for-6, stranding five runners.
The Cubs chased Moehler with two outs in the second inning. They scored four runs in the first inning, despite leaving the bases loaded, and four more again in the second.
They added three more runs against fifth starter Russ Ortiz in his three innings of work, including Fontenot’s homer.
Rule V pickup David Patton’s major league career didn’t get off to a good start, at least initially. He gave up a homer to his first batter, Hunter Pence, in the sixth inning.
Patton showed poise, however, as he came back to get the next three hitters, and then he threw a scoreless seventh inning.
After Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless 8th, Angel Guzman got in his first action of the new season. He closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, as the Cubs beat Houston.
So they won their first season series. If they keep up this pace, winning every series, they will win at least 113 games, come to think of it.