Rodrigo Lopez gets win as Cubs beat Astros 2-1
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org September 17, 2011 10:50PM
Rodrigo Lopez (6-6) had a season-high seven strikeouts in his victory against the Astros. | Tasos Katopodis~Getty Images
Updated: November 10, 2011 12:21PM
Rodrigo Lopez knows he’s pitching for a job next season with the Cubs or another team. His performance Saturday in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros could help.
Lopez (6-6) pitched six innings, struck out a season-high seven, allowed only four hits and walked two. The only run was unearned after an error by third baseman Aramis Ramirez in the first inning.
The Astros had two hits in the first but only two more singles off Lopez, who won consecutive starts for the second time.
‘‘I knew the bullpen had been used a lot the last couple of days,’’ Lopez said, ‘‘and it also was a personal goal [to pitch at least six innings]. I’m glad I could go six to help my team win and help the bullpen.
‘‘Everyone knows I’m fighting for a job and trying to find a job somewhere. Numbers sometimes don’t tell everything, but numbers are what they look at when you’re a free agent.’’
Ramon Ortiz, James Russell and Kerry Wood held the Astros scoreless until the ninth, when Sean Marshall was called on to finish to give Carlos Marmol some rest. Marshall gave up two hits and one intentional walk but survived to get his fifth save.
Bryan LaHair waited three years to get back to the majors, but he has made a good impression in his two-week return.
LaHair’s home run, his second since his call-up, leading off the fourth inning proved to be the game-winning run.
He committed his first error in right field in the second inning, but the Astros failed to score.
‘‘We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far, that’s for sure,’’ manager Mike Quade said.
LaHair is hitting .433 (13-for-30). He has drawn seven walks and struck out seven times in noticeably long at-bats.
‘‘It’s just part of my plan — get your pitch to hit,’’ he said.
LaHair has hit safely in all nine games he has started, seven of them in the corner outfield spots, where he’s learning to play after playing mostly first base.
‘‘I’m working hard out there,’’ LaHair said. ‘‘[Coach Bob Dernier] is breaking things down for me. I’m leaning on the center fielder, whether it’s Tony Campana or Marlon Byrd, to position me.
‘‘I wasn’t sure what my role would be.’’
Charting hit parade
Starlin Castro’s double leading off the fifth inning was his 194th hit of the season. At 21, he’s trying to become the youngest Cub to get at least 200 hits. Augie Galan (203 hits in 1935) and Billy Herman (206 hits in 1932) were 23.
Castro also became the first Cubs shortstop to reach base safely in 30 consecutive games since Ernie Banks in 1960.
‘‘If you’re in the same conversation as Ernie Banks, I can’t embellish on that,’’ Quade said.