The three runs scored by the Houston Astros in the 12th inning extinguished the Chicago Cubs’ hope to take another series at home.  The Astros won the rubber game by beating the home team 4-3 in a marathon match of three hours and 46 minutes.

Both starting pitchers of the game, Ted Lilly of the Cubs and Brett Myers of the Astros, brought their best game in the series finale.  However, neither one was implicated in game decision.  They only gave up one run each in this tight game. 

The Cubs got on scoreboard first in the fifth. With one out, Lilly hit a single to right field.  After right fielder Tyler Colvin struck out courtesy of Myers, shortstop Starlin Castro drove Lilly home with his 14th double of the year.

The visiting team equalized the score in the seventh.  Lilly, who struck out six Astros and walked only one, gave up a solo homer to Pedro Feliz, the pinch hitter for Myers.  The long shot to the left bleacher is Feliz’s fourth dinger of the season.

The score remained the same until the 12th inning, when the Astros took the lead for the first time in the game.  Cub reliever Jeff Stevens gave up two inherited runs when Astro pinch-hitter Jason Michaels hit a double to send home Chris Johnson and Jason Castro,  who had hit singles off Bob Howry (1-3).  He then gave up the game winning run, a single to SS Angel Sanchez to score Michaels from second base.  The Astros led the Cubs 4-1.

Geovany Soto gave the last hope to the Cubs at the bottom 12th.  After two quick outs, right fielder Kosuke Fukudome walked, and Soto clashed his 13th home run off reliever Gustavo Chacin to make the score 4-3. 

The Cubs attempted to prolong the inning; Ryan Theriot and Jeff Baker got on base with a single and a walk, respectively.  But too little too late, as the game ended with Tyler Colvin’s fly ball to right field.  Brandon Lyon (6-4) is the winner of the game and Chacin is credited with the save, his first of the season.

In fact, the Cubs had a few good chances to get the “W” earlier in the game, but they could not cash in every time with runners in scoring position.  They ended the bottom of the ninth with two men on.  And with the bases loaded in the 10th, Fukudome struck out swinging and Soto ended the rally with a fly ball.  Overall, they left 16 runners on bases.  The Astros only stranded eight.

The Cubs have to forget about today’s loss.  They have a bigger mountain to climb when they open a three-game home series Friday against the mighty Albert Pujols and his St. Louis Cardinals to kick off the weekend.  This upcoming series against their division rivals is crucial as it will determine their destiny in 2010. 

If the Cubs cannot beat the Cardinals, their chances of making the playoffs will greatly be diminished. 

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