How it happened: Travis Wood gave up a home run and a double to the first two batters, but allowed no other hits over 5 2/3 innings. He did walk a batter in the sixth inning that came around to score the eventual winning run against Shawn Camp. Alfonso Soriano crushed a solo home run in the fourth inning, his fourth long ball over the team’s past four series.
What it means: Wood looks nothing like the pitcher who struggled in spring training, delivering two solid starts so far this season. He topped the three runs over six innings he allowed the Dodgers on May 6, by giving up two runs on just two hits over 5 2/3 innings Tuesday. The Cubs had not received anything close to this kind of outing when Chris Volstad was pitching, but the team has still lost all nine games in this spot of the rotation.
Outside the box: Sure the offense has struggled of late, but the pitching has been dealing with its own issues. Going back to May 10 (not counting Tuesday night’s game), Cubs pitchers had a combined 5.96 ERA over an 11-game span. That was the highest ERA in baseball over that stretch (the Rockies were second at 5.84). The starters had a 6.22 ERA over those 11 games while the bullpen was at 5.58.
Off beat: The between-inning “Kiss Cam” video board feature at most ballparks isn’t just for fans, as Alfonso Soriano proved Tuesday. After making an impressive sliding catch in left field on a sinking line drive from the Astros’ Jed Lowrie in the sixth inning, Soriano removed the ball from his glove and gave it a little smooch. It was all in a day’s work for Soriano, who also hit a home run while playing on knee that has been sore most of the season.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (4-2, 3.00 ERA) to the mound in Wednesday’s series finale. The Astros will counter with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (3-4, 2.24) in the 7:05 p.m. start from Minute Maid Park.