Bud Norris (5-4, 4.81) vs Paul Maholm (4-6, 5.38)
Okay, this is getting old. The Astros are shut out for the fourth time in June, held to four or fewer hits for the fifth time this month, and fall to the Cubs 4-0 in a rain-delayed afternoon game at Wrigley. Houston once again can't solve the mystery of Paul Maholm, whose 3.31 ERA against the Astros coming into today is easily his lowest against any opponent he's faced at least five times, and more than a full run lower than his career mark (4.42).
*The Wrigley confines were not so friendly to Bud Norris in his return from the DL, as he was victimized for three homers in six innings, accounting for all of the scoring in the game. Bud's final line: 6 IP / 7 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 1 BB / 1 K. It was the second time this year that Bud surrendered three long balls in an outing, the other back on April 24 in
Wrigley Field North Milwaukee. Fernando Abad and Rhiner Cruz combined for two scoreless innings in relief, each with a hit and a strikeout, but it doesn't matter if your offense doesn't score.
*No Houston hitter had more than one hit, and only Carlos Lee had an extra-base hit, on a ground-rule double in the 9th that finally chased Maholm from the game.
*Lee and Brian Bixler were each 1 for 4, Schafer was 1 for 3, and Matt Downs was 1 for 2 with a HBP.
*Everyone else was 0 for Everything, with Chris Johnson turning in another multi-strikeout performance (0 for 4, 2 K).
*Only Bud Norris managed to draw a walk at the plate for Houston.
*This was the third straight game in which Houston managed four hits or fewer (three yesterday, two on Wednesday), with only one XBH each night.
The Astros were already on their last gasp, but they did manage to get runners second and third with only one out in the 9th to end Maholm's night. Dale Sveum then brought on Carlos Marmol, who struck out J.D. Martinez, but then hit Chris Snyder with a slider to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate in Chris Johnson. CJ hit a hard liner to third, but Luis Valbuena was right there and snagged it on the fly to end the game.
Man of the Match:
Tough call - maybe Matt Downs? He was the only Astro to reach base more than once, and he started a nifty double play in Cubs' half of the 6th.
Goat of the Game:
Bud Norris, though with the offensive lack of support, it hardly mattered.