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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lilly shuts Astros in Cubs 7-1

HOUSTON (AP) — Ted Lilly pitched 6 2-3 shutout innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 7-1 on Tuesday night.

Lilly (7-4) allowed only three hits to beat the Astros for the sixth straight time and improve to 3-0 against them this season.

Mike Fontenot hit a solo homer and Andres Blanco added a two-run double for the Cubs, who improved to 5-1 at Minute Maid Park this season. Their 16 hits tied a season high, first set in an 11-6 win in Houston on April 8.

Lance Berkman hit his 299th career homer in the ninth off Sean Marshall to avoid the Astros' sixth shutout loss of the season.

The Cubs beat Houston for the sixth time in the last eight meetings and began hammering starter Brian Moehler (2-4) in the first inning.

Alfonso Soriano doubled on the fourth pitch and scored on Kosuke Fukudome's ground-rule double that one-hopped into the stands in right. Fukudome scored on Derrek Lee's single and he later crossed home on Geovany Soto's RBI single to put the Cubs up 3-0.

Lilly, who came in with only two hits in 24 at-bats in 2009, led off the second inning with his first career triple, a drive to the gap in right center. He scored when Astros second baseman Edwin Maysonet threw wildly to first on a bouncer by Fukudome.

Fontenot led off the third with a solo homer to left, his sixth of the season, to make it 5-0. Fontenot has eight RBIs in his last seven games.

Brandon Backe pinch-hit for Moehler in the bottom of the third, ending Moehler's shortest start since April, when he left after 2 1-3 innings in Pittsburgh with a sprained knee.

Lilly, meanwhile, allowed only Hunter Pence's double and a walk to Backe through the first five innings.

Backe, making his third relief appearance since coming off the disabled list on May 28, escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth when Theriot popped up.

The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs again in the sixth and this time, Blanco doubled to the right-field corner for a 7-0 lead.

Lilly retired 10 straight hitters before Miguel Tejada's two-out single in the Astros sixth. Lilly struck out Pence to end the inning.

Aaron Heilman relieved Lilly with two outs in the seventh inning and struck out Maysonet. Heilman pitched a scoreless eighth before Marshall finished.

Notes:@ Astros 2B Kazuo Matsui (strained hamstring) will play for Double-A Corpus Christi between Wednesday and Saturday and will likely rejoin the lineup next week. Matsui ran the bases at Minute Maid Park before Tuesday's game. ... Astros RHP Geoff Geary (right biceps tendinitis) threw two innings in a simulated game on Tuesday. The middle reliever said he felt ready to pitch again, but Houston manager Cecil Cooper set no timetable for Geary's return. ... Cubs RHP Rich Harden will start Saturday's game against Minnesota, manager Lou Piniella said. Harden, on the disabled list since May 18 with a back strain, threw 70 pitches in a rehab start for Iowa on Monday. ... Piniella said Cubs IF Aaron Miles (right shoulder strain) will be activated before Wednesday's game.

by the associated press

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