Ensberg hit a long home run and finished 4-for-4 with three
RBI, and Chris Burke, Adam Everett and Humberto Quintero also
homered in the recently punchless Astros' 12-4 victory over the
Chicago Cubs on Monday night.
Ensberg homered in the seventh inning, a solo shot that landed
on the train track well above the left-field stands. He helped the
Astros follow consecutive shutouts with their second-highest
scoring game of the season.
"There was a frustration going on," said Ensberg, whose 33rd
homer would have left the ballpark if the roof wasn't closed.
"Certainly with me there was. I was extremely frustrated with the
last two days. My idea today was to hit the ball or go down in a
ball of flames. Truly, that was the idea."
Burke hit a three-run homer in the third inning, and Everett had
a solo homer and Quintero hit a two-run shot in a six-run fifth.
Astros rookie Willy Taveras had his fourth four-hit game, finishing
4-for-6 with two runs.
Wandy Rodriguez (8-5) again benefited from generous run support.
The Astros have scored 87 runs in his 15 starts -- about six runs in
each outing -- for the rookie, who allowed four runs on seven hits
in seven innings for his second straight victory.
In contrast, Astros ace Roger Clemens -- who received no run
support in a two-hit, eight-inning gem Saturday -- has gotten 88
runs from his offense in 24 starts.
"I've just pitched my game and have been fortunate," Rodriguez
said through a translator.
Matt Murton hit his first career homer and Todd Walker hit his
eighth for the Cubs, who began a six-game road swing with their
sixth consecutive road loss. Chicago has lost 10 of its last 13 to
fall 7½ games behind the Astros in the NL wild-card race.
"We're going through a real tough stretch now," Cubs manager
Dusty Baker said. "We've got to find a way against two tough
pitchers the next couple of days to try and get out of this."
Chicago's Glendon Rusch (5-5) lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his
first start since June 23. He allowed five runs on 10 hits.
"I'd make some pitches to get out of a jam, then I'd turn right
around and make bad pitches and get back in another jam," Rusch
said. "I just didn't do my job."
Burke and Everett each broke out of long slumps with their home
runs. They had a combined eight hits in their last 80 at-bats
before going deep for the Astros, who hit four home runs for the
third time this season.
Quintero was homerless and batting .167 before connecting in the
fifth. The Astros sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.
Everett, Burke and Quintero -- the Astros' Nos. 6-8 hitters --
combined for seven of Houston's RBI.
"It takes all nine of us hitting in the lineup," Everett said.
"Chris and I knew we are better hitters than what we've been
Corey Patterson scored the Cubs' final run in the fourth when he
tripled to center, and went home when Craig Biggio's relay throw
skipped and hit Patterson in the helmet as he was sliding into
third base. The ball rolled toward the Cubs' dugout, allowing
Patterson to score easily.
Taveras had his 42nd multihit game of the season. He was a
major league-leading 59 infield hits. ... The Cubs have homered in
seven straight games. ... Burke's three RBI was a career high. ...
Quintero's homered for the first time since July 2, 2004, when he
was with the San Diego Padres. ... The Astros avoided losing three
straight at home for the first time this season.