These aren't the same Cubs anymore.
The NL Central-leading Cubs took two of three in Houston to go
8-5 on the trip despite missing Sosa, who is on the disabled list
with an injured right toe.
"I'm just glad it's over,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "I knew
this would be a tough stretch but we played hard and we played
well. I can't say that we surpassed our expectations. We knew what
we had to do, we just didn't know how we would do it without
The Cubs won eight games on a trip for the first time since
going 8-2 in 1993. One game was rained out on the trip -- Chicago's
longest scheduled stretch away from home since a 15-game trip in
"I think we all did a good job of stepping up and proving that
even without Sammy we are a good team,'' reliever Mike Remlinger
said. "We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different
Alou hit RBI singles in the third, fifth and seventh innings
against his former team. Alou went 3-for-3 to raise his career
average at Minute Maid Park to .344.
Zambrano (5-4) allowed three runs, five hits and five walks. He
struck out five.
"He wasn't as sharp as he has been,'' Baker said. "But our
offense came through when it had to. Everybody talks about our
offense, but our pitching has been good too.
Houston's Jeff Bagwell went 0-for-4 to stretch his slump to
"He's a power pitcher who has a great sinker,'' Bagwell said.
"He mixes in his offspeed stuff well. But he basically comes at
you with his power stuff.''
Wade Miller (2-6) allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks
in five innings to take the loss.
Center fielder Brian Hunter fielded the ball, threw home and
Ausmus appeared to tag Hee Seop Choi in time at the plate. But home
plate umpire Mark Carlson said Choi slid under the tag triggering
Alex Gonzalez had an RBI single in the fifth and drove in
another on a fielder's choice in the seventh.
Geoff Blum appeared for the first time since spending the night
in the hospital with a mild case of viral meningitis last Tuesday
and hit an RBI double in the seventh to chase Zambrano.
Blum went to third on a wild pitch by reliever Kyle Farnsworth
and scored on Hunter's groundout to make it 7-3.
Jeff Kent's RBI single gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the first.
Houston OF Richard Hidalgo remained in the hospital Sunday
with a severe case of tonsillitis and a high fever. He went in
Friday. Club officials said they didn't know when Hidalgo would get
out but did not expect him to make the trip to St. Louis on Monday.
... Harris needs just two more hits to reach 1,000 for his major
league career.... Alou is hitting .397 with three homers and 13
RBIs his last 17 games.