Lucas Harrell (10-11, 3.88) vs Jason Berken (0-2, 5.14)
Having fully embraced their spoiler role throughout September, the Astros went to Wrigley Field for the final three games of 2012 with nothing left to spoil, save for the Cubs' hopes of avoiding 100 losses. Lucas Harrell wasn't having any of that, and he ended his outstanding rookie season with an exclamation point. Four Houston pitchers combine on a two-hit shutout, and the Astros beat the Cubs 3-0. The win puts Houston at 54-106, with two games left as a National League franchise.
*After losing his last two starts, Lucas Harrell had fallen below .500 in an otherwise impressive season, but he made sure he wouldn't end up that way by making his last start one of his best. Seven strikeouts ran up his pitch count to 98, ending his night after six innings, but he handcuffed the Cubs to just a single, a double, and a walk during that time. Lucas' final line: 6 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K. After he left, the Astros bullpen was equally awesome, with Jose Valdez (1 IP), Fernando Rodriguez (0.2 IP, 2 K), and Wesley Wright (1.1 IP, 2 K) combining for three perfect innings to seal the deal. Wright earned his first save of the season.
*There were no multiples of homers for Houston tonight, but the one they did get was dang impressive. Fernando Martinez homered for the third consecutive game, on a solo blast to RF in the second that very nearly landed on Sheffield Avenue. F-Mart finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored.
*Matt Dominguez drove home Martinez on a RBI triple in the 4th, for Houston's second run. Matty D ended up 1 for 4 with a K.
*Scott Moore had the third RBI, on a single in the 8th, finishing 1 for 4.
*Brandon Barnes went 1 for 3 and scored on Moore's RBI single.
*Jose Altuve was 1 for 3 with a walk.
*Justin Maxwell entered the game on defense in the 8th, then doubled in his only at bat.
The Cubs only had one baserunner after the 1st, and none after the 4th, so Houston's lead was secure as soon as they had it. Fernando Martinez gave them that lead leading off in the second, lauching Jason Berken's 1-0 fastball almost clean out of the yard.
Man of the Match:
Lucas William Bradley Harrell. On a team with plenty of rookies, the Man with Four Names should easily be their Rookie of the Year.
The two hits allowed by Houston tonight were a season low, and the three baserunners tied their season low, set last week by Bud Norris in the Astros' final home game. The Astros are once more back at .500 (14-14) since September 1.