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Sunday, June 23, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Cubs 14, Astros 6

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs closed out their second series triumph of the month with a 14-6 victory Sunday over the Houston Astros.

How it happened: The Cubs reached double digits in hits by the fifth inning and double digits in runs by the seventh inning. Ryan Sweeney hit a three-run home run in the seventh and had a career-high six RBIs. Anthony Rizzo had a home run among his three hits with four RBIs. Jeff Samardzija went seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits without a walk. The Cubs are now 8-3 against the American League with seven more games coming up against AL teams over the next two weeks.

What it means: Samardzija’s outing was fine, he just continues to show that habit of only dominating when added motivation is involved. Against the last-place Astros, there was no such extra incentive. Samardzija has dominated not only on Opening Day against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also against rivals like the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. At St. Louis last week, against the best hitting team in the NL, Samardzija gave up two runs on seven hits in 8 1/3 innings. The Astros entered third from the bottom in the AL in hitting.

Outside the box: The explosion of offense forced two more Starlin Castro fielding miscues away from the spotlight. Castro made his 13th error of the season when his throw to first base in the fourth inning handcuffed first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The bad throw allowed a run to score. His 14th error came when he couldn't handle a throw at second base in the ninth inning to start a potential double play. Before the game Castro had put in extra fielding work. His 14 errors are now the most in baseball.

Off beat: Rizzo bought a ticket to ride the carousel Sunday. In the second inning, he rolled a ball toward right field that tipped off the glove of diving Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. The ball died in shallow right, giving Rizzo time to scamper in to second base. And when Astros’ right fielder Marc Krauss made an errant throw back into the infield, Rizzo got out of his slide and moved all the way to third, where he slid again. He scored one batter later on a ground ball by Ryan Sweeney.

Up next: After an off day Monday, the Cubs open a three-game series Tuesday in Milwaukee with right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-9, 5.49) facing off against Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse (2-6, 3.68).