Bud Norris (5-7, 3.64) vs Travis Wood (5-6, 2.74)
Trade controversy or not, Bud Norris pitched today the same as he has all season for the Astros. Struggling offense or not, J.D. Martinez and Ronny Cedeno found a way to capitalize on their chances when it mattered the most. Travis Wood completely shut down the Astros for the first five innings, but the bats (finally) came through when it counted, the bullpen did its job, and Houston emerges tonight the 4-3 winners. That result improves the Astros to 29-47 overall - one game behind the Cubs in the win column.
On the Mound:
*Bud Norris did what Bud Norris has done on most occasions this season, and that is giving the Astros a solid chance of winning the ballgame. After 5 innings, it looked like Bud might be in line for another tough-luck loss, but instead he gets another quality start and a welcomed no-decision with his 6 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 5 K line.
*Jose Cisnero pitched a perfect 7th, but played wizard again in the 8th, picking off Alfonso Soriano after a one-out double, then loading the bases after two outs before escaping with another scoreless inning.
*Absolutely no drama from Jose Veras tonight, who set the Cubs down 1-2-3 in the 9th for his 15th save of the season.
At the Plate:
*Houston only had two hits to speak of on offense before the 6th, when J.D. Martinez left his mark. A two-out, three-run home run clean out of Wrigley onto Waveland Avenue turned a 3-0 hole into a 3-3 tie. J.D. finished 1 for 4 with a K.
*Jose Altuve is trending upwards again, going 2 for 3 today with a double, a walk, and a run scored. That makes him 10 for 29 (.345) over the last week.
*Chris Carter singled ahead of J.D.'s HR in the 6th to go 1 for 4 with a R.
*Justin Maxwell's Silver Hammer delivered his first XBH since hopping off the Meat Wagon, with a leadoff double in the 9th that turned into the winning run. Maxwell finished 2 for 4.
*Ronny Cedeno was hitless, at 0 for 2 with a K, but his safety squeeze brought home Maxwell from third with the game-winning RBI in the 9th.
It was a 3-3 game heading into the 9th, when Justin Maxwell got things started with a leadoff double against Kevin Gregg. Matt Dominguez sac bunted Maxwell up to third, then Ronny Cedeno laid down a safety squeeze bunt that brought him home. Lucas Harrell somewhat inexplicably pinch-hit next for Jose Cisnero - and unsurprisingly struck out - but it was still National League baseball at its finest.
Man of the Match:
J.D. Martinez. Houston was a collective 1 for 18 with RISP the last three games, and only 1 for 8 again today, but that 1 came from J.D. in a huge situation.
Goat of the Game:
Hm. How about Carlos Corporan? 0 for 3 with 2 K, and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt that contributed to Chicago's two runs in the 3rd.