Astros starter Brett Myers continued his reign of dominance over the last month Sunday afternoon by tossing 7 2/3 stellar innings against the Chicago Cubs at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field en route to Houston’s 3-2 victory in the series finale.
Myers (6-13) improved to 13-3 in his career versus the Cubs and currently has an 11-game winning streak against them, which spans over the course of a 13-start period, dating back to Aug. 4, 2005 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies’ rotation.
His impressive streak will carry over to the 2012 season and possibly challenge a mark set by future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, who represents the last MLB pitcher to start 13-plus consecutive games against the Cubs without being handed a loss.
The Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening frame, with rookie left fielder J.D Martinez producing an RBI single and shortstop Clint Barmes coming through with a two-out, two-run single to push Angel Sanchez and Martinez across the plate.
Those three runs right off the bat against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster turned out to be the only offense Houston needed on an afternoon, which included a rain delay lasting one hour, seven minutes.
Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the first with a double and cut the lead to 3-1 by scoring on Bryan LaHair’s sacrifice fly to right.
LaHair finished 1-for-3 and is hitting .424 (14-for-33) with two homers and six RBI since being promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Sept. 2.
As for Castro, he became the first Cubs shortstop to reach base safely in 31 straight games since Woody English, who posted streaks of 34 games (1929) and 32 games (1930) during his 10 seasons with Chicago, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Myers shut down the Cubs over the next six frames before running into a jam and catching a major break in the bottom of the eighth.
Darwin Barney led off the inning by reaching third on an error by Brian Bogusevic, as the ball rolled to the warning track in right field.
After Castro drew a walk, Cubs manager Mike Quade went to Aramis Ramirez as a pinch-hitter with the hope of generating one big swing.
Ramirez cut the lead to 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to right, but it was Carlos Pena’s at-bat with two outs that proved to be the decisive factor.
Pena belted a drive to left field that was initially ruled a two-run homer, thus putting the Cubs ahead 4-3, until the call was reversed.
Astros manager Brad Mills came out in order to protest the call, causing the umpires to review the play and determine the ball fell short.
Pena was given a double and Castro had to return to third base, which sparked Quade to argue the ruling — leading to his ejection.
Quade wasn’t questioning the ruling of the home run, but felt Castro should have been allowed to score to tie the game at 3-3.
With Castro and Pena at third and second, Mills pulled Myers in favor of closer Mark Melancon, who retired Marlon Byrd to end the threat.
Myers allowed two run (one earned) on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 117 pitches (76 for strikes) to earn the win.
He’s 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA over 15 2/3 innings in three starts during the month of September, and has yielded just six runs (five earned) over his last five starts, dating back to a stellar seven-inning outing on Aug. 27 against the San Francisco Giants.
After the lengthy rain delay, Cubs right-hander Ramon Ortiz bounced back from a leadoff walk to J.B. Shuck in the top of the ninth by retiring Jason Bourgeois, Sanchez and Martinez to give Chicago one last chance at possibly tying or winning the game.
Melancon tossed a perfect ninth for his 18th save.
Dempster (10-13) allowed three earned runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts over seven innings to earn the loss.
Despite an overall solid performance, Dempster dropped a season-high fifth straight decision to match his career-high with 13 losses.
The Astros, who recorded their 100th loss of the 2011 season Saturday afternoon, snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided getting swept at Wrigley Field for the second straight series.
Houston will continue their six-game road trip Monday night by kicking off a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park — the team’s final road series of the season.
J.A. Happ (6-15, 5.59 ERA) is scheduled to start for Houston, while Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to make a game-time decision.
Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04 ERA) was scratched from his start Sunday due to back spasms, but could get the ball Monday night.
However, if Willis can’t start on Monday, Baker will likely give young left-hander Travis Wood (6-5, 4.85 ERA) the starting nod.
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