Thursday, July 30, 2009
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Wells' arm, Soriano's bat lead Cubs over Astros

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[July 30, 2009]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Randy Wells pitched eight shutout innings and Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer during a six-run first inning Wednesday, leading the Chicago Cubs to an 12-0 victory over the Houston Astros.

InsuranceAramis Ramirez homered and drove in two runs for the Cubs, who battered Mike Hampton and improved to 10-3 since the All-Star break.

Wells (7-4) is the first Cubs rookie with seven victories since Kerry Wood won 13 in 1998. The 26-year-old righty gave up six singles, walked two, struck out one and let only one runner get as far as second base.

Using his sinker, Wells got Houston to ground into three double plays. His 2.84 ERA leads all rookies and he has a 1.97 ERA against NL Central teams.


Mitch Atkins, making his major league debut after getting called up from Triple-A Iowa, completed the Cubs' third shutout of the season by working a hitless ninth.

Hampton (6-8) allowed nine runs in four innings. Houston has lost four of five since using a 32-18 stretch to get back into contention.

The Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate in the first, with Soriano's homer breaking open the game. The former leadoff man with the $136 million contract has settled in nicely as Chicago's No. 6 hitter. Batting sixth exclusively the last 12 games, he has a .383 average with five homers and 15 RBIs, including Monday's 13th-inning grand slam.

In the first innings of his 18 starts this season, Hampton has allowed 24 runs -- an ERA of 12.00, compared to 4.04 from the second inning on.

Reed Johnson opened the game with a single, went to third on Ryan Theriot's double and scored on Derrek Lee's sacrifice fly. After an RBI single by Ramirez, Milton Bradley walked and Soriano followed with his 19th homer to make it 5-0.

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Hampton then walked Jeff Baker, threw a wild pitch and gave up Koyie Hill's RBI single.

Ramirez homered in the second, giving him at least one extra-base hit in seven straight games. The Cubs scored twice in the fourth when Lee hit an RBI double and scored on Bradley's single.

Andres Blanco led off the eighth with his first career homer. Jake Fox added two RBIs for the Cubs.

NOTES: Johnson, who fouled a ball off his foot during his second at-bat of the first inning, left the game with a bruised left foot. ... Astros RHP Bud Norris, just called up from Triple-A Round Rock, made his major league debut. After taking over for Hampton, he allowed one run on three hits in three innings. ... It was Chicago's most decisive win this year but wasn't Houston's most lopsided loss. The Astros fell 13-0 to San Francisco on July 3.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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