Series: Game 3 of 4

Chi Cubs leads 3-0 (as of 6/16)

Game 1: Monday, June 14
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Game 2: Tuesday, June 15
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Game 3: Wednesday, June 16
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Game 4: Thursday, June 17
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Cubs 4

(36-29, 18-15 away)

Astros 1

(33-31, 15-16 home)

    7:05 PM ET, June 16, 2004

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    CHC 000000220 4 11 0
    HOU 100000000 1 8 2

    W: G. Maddux (6-5)

    L: T. Redding (3-6)

    S: L. Hawkins (7)

    Cubs rally late from 1-0 down

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs have been playing so well on the road lately, they might want to stay in a hotel when they return home.

    The Houston Astros, on the other hand, could use a one-way ticket out of town for a few days.

    Maddux earned his 295th win Wednesday night, pitching the Cubs past the slumping Astros 4-1 for their fifth straight victory on this seven-game road trip.

    "Obviously, the breaks are going for us," Chicago catcher Paul Bako said. "We're getting great pitching and timely hitting just like we thought we would in spring training."

    Todd Hollandsworth's RBI triple sparked a two-run eighth for the Cubs. Maddux (6-5) befuddled the Astros, allowing only one run and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.

    The Astros have lost three in a row to Chicago and five of their last six, a tailspin that has left them in fifth place in the NL Central. A crowd of 36,225 booed the Astros throughout the night, an unusual occurrence from Houston's normally placid fans.

    "Obviously, times are tough now," said Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who went 3-for-4. "Everyone starts feeling sorry for themselves. But if you're a team that believes in yourself, you go out and fix it. I still believe we're as good as anybody around."

    Bako doubled in speedy Corey Patterson for the tying run in the seventh and Walker drove in Bako with a sacrifice fly, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

    Aramis Ramirez, who hit a tying single in Chicago's ninth-inning rally Tuesday night, led off the eighth with a single. Hollandsworth followed with a shot to deep center, which Craig Biggio let slip out of his glove as he crashed into the wall trying to avoid the man-made hill in center.

    While Biggio scrambled to get up and make the play, Ramirez raced home and Hollandsworth made it to third.

    Derrek Lee's sacrifice fly scored Hollandsworth.

    "This was a great game by Maddux," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We were behind 1-0 a long time tonight, but (Maddux) just kept pitching and we just kept plugging and plugging until we got a couple of runs."

    Maddux got off to a rocky start in the first, giving up three hits, including an RBI single to Lance Berkman that put the Astros on top 1-0.

    But the four-time Cy Young Award winner found his groove, and he didn't allow an Astro past first base the rest of the night.

    Mike Remlinger pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings, and LaTroy Hawkins got three outs for his seventh save.

    "When the pitchers on this team keep us in the game," Maddux said, "we're going to win a lot of close games. Our hitters are going to hit."

    Tim Redding (3-6), who's struggled all season in the fifth starter's spot for Houston, had one of his best outings despite taking the loss.

    He gave up two runs -- when he clearly tired in the seventh -- and eight hits in seven innings. He retired 11 of 12 batters during one stretch.

    Moises Alou feigned being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth, and plate umpire Darren Spagnardi waved in Maddux for the tying run, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd.

    Houston manager Jimy Williams immediately stormed out of the dugout in protest and the umpires congregated before reversing the call -- replays showed that Redding's pitch actually hit Alou's bat.

    Redding forced Alou to pop up to right fielder Jason Lane for the final out of the inning, earning a standing ovation as he walked off the mound.

    However, those cheers turned to boos as the Cubs started to smack Redding's pitches around the field in the seventh.

    "I was fortunate it wasn't worse than it was, especially after that fifth inning," Redding said. "I didn't feel I was all there tonight."

    Neither was Houston's offense.

    The Astros, the NL's top-hitting team, had eight hits but left eight on base a night after stranding 12.

    The Astros haven't scored more than five runs in 15 games, nine of them losses.

    "This team stood behind me when I was struggling to go three innings," Redding said, "so I'm certainly going to stand behind them. This team is just going to take off. It's still one of the best in the major leagues."

    Game notes

    Patterson ended the Astros' final scoring threat in the eighth with a spectacular, over-the-shoulder, leaping catch in center. ... Bagwell returned to the lineup after sitting out Tuesday night following a cortisone shot on his chronically achy right shoulder.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press