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Saturday, June 30, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Astros 2

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO – The Cubs’ 3-2 triumph over the Houston Astros on Saturday gave them back-to-back wins at the start of two consecutive series and four victories in their past five games.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Anthony Rizzo capped a three-run fifth inning with a two-run home run as the Cubs just got past the Astros. Matt Garza gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings, but it was the bullpen that brought this victory home. The Cubs used five relievers to nail down the win with Carlos Marmol closing things down in the ninth inning.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rizzo has already shown multiple times that he has the clutch gear the Cubs have been missing for most of the season. His first RBI of the season came Tuesday on a double to center field against the New York Mets that put the Cubs on top for good in an eventual victory. On Saturday, his first home run of the year was a two-run shot that put the Cubs up by a run.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: There are no indications that Matt Garza was ever a boxer, but he sure knew how to bob and weave Saturday. He gave up nine hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, but the Astros only managed to turn it into two runs. Saturday was the first time in seven starts that Garza had allowed more than one walk in an outing. The last time he walked as many as three was on May 11 when he gave out five free passes to the Brewers.

OFF BEAT: The victory means the Cubs guaranteed just the second winning homestand of multiple opponents this season. Not counting the brief three-game homestand when they swept the San Diego Padres, the only other winning homestand before this one came when the Cubs won two of three against both the Dodgers and the Braves in early May. If the Cubs can beat the Astros on Sunday it would be their second series sweep of the season and would be revenge for a three-game sweep at Houston in late May.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send left-hander Travis Wood (2-3, 3.54 ERA) to the mound in Sunday’s finale of a three-game series. The Astros will counter with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (6-5, 3.52) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.