CHICAGO -- Dale Sveum and Theo Epstein saw the upside in Travis Wood while he was pitching for the Cincinnati Reds. Now he is throwing just the way the pitcher the Cubs' new manager and club president envisioned.
Wood pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and used some nifty baserunning to set up Anthony Rizzo's go-ahead single as the Chicago Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 3-0 win on Sunday.
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"That was another pretty dominating outing. It was impressive how he kept the ball inside as well as making all of his pitches. He stuck to a game plan and it was perfect. He didn't walk anybody there wasn't a lot of hard contact to tell you the truth," Sveum said. "That was about as good as it gets even though he one of those last time, too."Before the game, Houston Astros first baseman Carlos Lee said he still hadn't decided if he would accept a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 1 for 4 with a double in the ninth.Wood (3-3) held the Astros to three hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out four and didn't allow a walk in his longest outing of the season.Wood left the game to a loud ovation after retiring Brian Bixler in the eighth. The 25-year-old lefty has yielded one run over 20 2/3 innings in his last three starts.It was scoreless in the sixth when Wood led off with a double against Wandy Rodriguez (6-6).Reed Johnson followed with a grounder to third baseman Matt Downs, who made a sliding stop. Downs didn't look Wood back, and the pitcher took third as Johnson was thrown out."He's actually an offensive asset when he is up there. His athleticism and things like that change a game around," Sveum said. "It was the Travis Wood show today, no doubt about it."After an intentional walk to Starlin Castro, Rizzo singled. Jeff Baker followed with a two-run double to left."One mistake to the pitcher. He's leading off and I think he's going to take one strike and I threw a fastball and he hit it for a double," Rodriguez said. "After that I tried to put the ball down for a ground ball. That's my big mistake today."Two of Epstein's biggest offseason acquisitions -- Wood and Rizzo -- teamed up on this victory. Wood was obtained in a trade with Cincinnati for reliever Sean Marshall and Rizzo came from San Diego in a trade involving starter Andrew Cashner."That's the reason why we traded for him," Sveum said. "We obviously gave up one of the best relievers in baseball for him. That's what we thought about him. As well as myself, seeing him on the other side of the fence with Cincinnati, how well he pitched against the Brewers when I was there, against a really good right-handed lineup. I knew it was somewhere in there."Rizzo hit his first homer of the season Saturday, a two-run, go-ahead shot.Cubs reliever Shawn Camp retired one batter in the eighth and closer Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth for eighth save in 10 chances. He saved all three games of the series.The game started after a 56-minute weather delay and the teams combined for just one baserunner in the first four innings. Luis Valbuena's single with one out in the Cubs' third was the first hit of the game.After Wood retired the first 12 Houston batters, he allowed a leadoff double to J.D. Martinez in the fifth. Wood pitched out of the inning by retiring Downs, Brian Bogusevic and Bixler in order."He was getting that cutter working," Martinez said. "It felt like every time you were swinging it was off the hands. He threw the two seam just kind of running it, cutting it. It's tough."
All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve was back in the Houston lineup after missing six straight games because of a right hamstring injury. He was 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. ... Castro was selected to his second straight All-Star game at shortstop and Cubs OF Bryan LaHair was selected to his first All-Star game. LaHair had the day off.
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