Series: Game 4 of 4

Chi Cubs won 3-1

Game 1: Monday, August 11
Chi Cubs1
Game 2: Tuesday, August 12
Chi Cubs3
Game 3: Wednesday, August 13
Chi Cubs6
Game 4: Thursday, August 14
Chi Cubs7

Astros 1

(64-57, 28-34 away)

Cubs 7

(63-57, 31-30 home)

    2:20 PM ET, August 14, 2003

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 000001000 1 5 1
    CHC 20021002 - 7 6 1

    W: M. Clement (10-10)

    L: J. Fernandez (1-2)

    Cubs move within half-game of lead

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Six weeks left and the NL Central can't get much closer. The Chicago Cubs have a simple plan for the days ahead: stick around.

    "The way the season has been it's been somebody up and somebody down, but never really ever out of it," Chicago right-hander Matt Clement said Thursday after the Cubs tightened the race by beating Houston 7-1 and knocking the Astros into a first-place tie with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    "It looks like all three teams have the talent to stay in this thing or win this thing," said Clement, whose team is one-half game back.

    "We knew no matter what happened, good or bad, coming into this series, that there are 41 games left after these," said Houston's Craig Biggio, who was 1-for-16 as Houston won the opener and dropped the final three at Wrigley Field.

    "They are knocking at our doorstep, they are right behind us. I still think it will come down to the last weekend," Biggio added.

    Alex Gonzalez, in a 2-for-46 slump when the series began, had three hits, including a homer, and drove in three Thursday.

    "That's the way it's been going the last couple of weeks, it seems to be a different guy every game," Gonzalez added. "That's what it's going to take to win a championship, to get everybody involved, even the guys on the bench."

    The Astros managed just eight runs in the four games as some of their top hitters, especially Biggio and Lance Berkman (1-for-15 in the series with four strikeouts Thursday), struggled.

    "We had chances. We had base runners on with the right people up. We just didn't get those hits," manager Jimy Williams said after Thursday's loss.

    "We talked about it before, we are going to go through some highs and lows," Biggio said, crediting Chicago's pitching. "There are five good starting pitchers over there and you are not going to score many runs, especially if the wind is blowing in."

    Clement (10-10) lasted 5 2-3 innings, allowing three hits and a run, but walked four and made two throwing errors. The Cubs bullpen gave up just two hits over the final 3 1-3 innings.

    Hee Seop Choi hit a two-out, two-run double in the first off knuckleballer Jared Fernandez (1-2) to get the Cubs started.

    Kenny Lofton had a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 and Gonzalez added an RBI double for a four-run lead in the fourth.

    Reliever Rick White, who'd been designated for assignment by the White Sox earlier in the month and then signed by the Astros, joined Houston on Thursday and the rust showed in his one inning of work. He hit two batters and walked two to force in a run as the Cubs went ahead 5-0 in the fifth.

    Gonzalez hit a two-run homer off Brad Lidge in the eighth. ^Notes:@ The series drew a Wrigley Field four-game record 159,040 fans. ... Battling the sun, Biggio dropped Sammy Sosa's fly ball in the third for a two-base error -- the first error in center this season for the converted second baseman. ...To make room for White, the Astros optioned RHP Kirk Saarloos to Triple-A New Orleans. ... Right after Gonzalez homered, jets practicing for air show above the field, scaring players and fans alike. "We couldn't celebrate very long because we were all ducking under the bats," Gonzalez said. ... The Cubs optioned RHP Juan Cruz to Triple-A Iowa after the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press