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Cubs-Astros Preview 2009-05-07


Cubs-Astros Preview 2009-05-07
Ted Lilly has been dominant at home for the Chicago Cubs this year. That's certainly not been the case on the road for the left-hander.

On Thursday night, Lilly looks to avoid another rough start away from home as the Cubs try to sweep a two-game series from the Houston Astros.

Lilly (3-2, 3.13 ERA) allowed one run and five hits while striking out 10 in eight innings of a 6-1 victory over Florida on Saturday at Wrigley Field. He is 2-1 with a 0.42 ERA at home this season, but 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA on the road.

Lilly, who hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in either road outing, allowed five runs, eight hits - including four home runs - and was fortunate to get more than enough support in Chicago's 11-6 win at Houston on April 8. He gave up five runs in a 7-2 loss at Arizona on April 27.

"We're going to score a lot of runs," Lilly told the Cubs' official Web site. "I want to be prepared so when we don't, I can limit the opposing club to two runs or whatever is necessary to get the 'W.'"

Despite his latest effort versus Houston (11-16), Lilly is 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts against the Astros.

Chicago (15-12) gave starter Rich Harden plenty of support in a 6-3 win over Houston on Wednesday.

Aramis Ramirez homered and Reed Johnson delivered a bases-loaded triple for the Cubs, who have won five of their last six games.

Lingering neck spasms will likely keep first baseman Derrek Lee out of the lineup for a second straight contest. Lee missed two games in Arizona last week because of the injury.

"The last few times this has happened it's been four or five days," manager Lou Piniella said of Lee, who has two homers and five RBIs in his last five games. "We'll have to wait and see."

Ramirez is batting .344 and 8 for 18 with two home runs and six RBIs against the Astros in 2009. He is 5 for 15 with a homer and three doubles against Houston's scheduled starter Russ Ortiz.

Ortiz (2-0, 5.21) makes his fourth start and first since allowing two runs while walking four in five innings of a 3-2 win over Milwaukee on April 26.

The right-hander, who walked two in one-third of an inning at Atlanta on Sunday, allowed three runs and walked four in three innings of relief versus the Cubs last month.

Ortiz is 3-4 with a 5.33 ERA in nine career starts versus Chicago.

Lance Berkman hit a two-run homer and Hunter Pence had two hits Wednesday for Houston, which returned home after Tuesday's game at Washington was suspended, 10-10 in the 11th inning.

"We've gone through four or five days that have been really tough for us, travel days and long days at the ballpark," said Astros manager Cecil Cooper, whose team has lost four of its last six completed games. "(But we) cannot make excuses. We still got to go out and play."

Berkman is hitting .194, but homered off Lilly last month. Berkman and Pence are a combined 4 for 33 against the Chicago starter.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 7, 2009

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