Series: Game 1 of 3

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 8/15)

Game 1: Monday, August 15
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Game 2: Tuesday, August 16
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in 10
Game 3: Wednesday, August 17
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Cubs 4

(57-62, 27-32 away)

Astros 12

(64-54, 40-18 home)

    8:05 PM ET, August 15, 2005

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    CHC 210100000 4 7 1
    HOU 20306010 - 12 16 2

    W: W. Rodriguez (8-5)

    L: G. Rusch (5-5)

    Ensberg 4-for-4 with three RBI in Astros' rout

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Morgan Ensberg helped solve the Houston Astros' offense problems -- for at least a night.

    Ensberg hit a long home run and finished 4-for-4 with three RBI, and Chris Burke, Adam Everett and Humberto Quintero also homered in the recently punchless Astros' 12-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

    Ensberg homered in the seventh inning, a solo shot that landed on the train track well above the left-field stands. He helped the Astros follow consecutive shutouts with their second-highest scoring game of the season.

    "There was a frustration going on," said Ensberg, whose 33rd homer would have left the ballpark if the roof wasn't closed. "Certainly with me there was. I was extremely frustrated with the last two days. My idea today was to hit the ball or go down in a ball of flames. Truly, that was the idea."

    Burke hit a three-run homer in the third inning, and Everett had a solo homer and Quintero hit a two-run shot in a six-run fifth. Astros rookie Willy Taveras had his fourth four-hit game, finishing 4-for-6 with two runs.

    Wandy Rodriguez (8-5) again benefited from generous run support. The Astros have scored 87 runs in his 15 starts -- about six runs in each outing -- for the rookie, who allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings for his second straight victory.

    In contrast, Astros ace Roger Clemens -- who received no run support in a two-hit, eight-inning gem Saturday -- has gotten 88 runs from his offense in 24 starts.

    "I've just pitched my game and have been fortunate," Rodriguez said through a translator.

    Matt Murton hit his first career homer and Todd Walker hit his eighth for the Cubs, who began a six-game road swing with their sixth consecutive road loss. Chicago has lost 10 of its last 13 to fall 7½ games behind the Astros in the NL wild-card race.

    It doesn't figure to get any easier for Cubs. Tuesday they face Andy Pettitte -- who is 6-1 since June -- before ending the three-game series Wednesday against 14-game winner Roy Oswalt.

    "We're going through a real tough stretch now," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got to find a way against two tough pitchers the next couple of days to try and get out of this."

    Chicago's Glendon Rusch (5-5) lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his first start since June 23. He allowed five runs on 10 hits.

    "I'd make some pitches to get out of a jam, then I'd turn right around and make bad pitches and get back in another jam," Rusch said. "I just didn't do my job."

    Burke and Everett each broke out of long slumps with their home runs. They had a combined eight hits in their last 80 at-bats before going deep for the Astros, who hit four home runs for the third time this season.

    Quintero was homerless and batting .167 before connecting in the fifth. The Astros sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.

    Everett, Burke and Quintero -- the Astros' Nos. 6-8 hitters -- combined for seven of Houston's RBI.

    "It takes all nine of us hitting in the lineup," Everett said. "Chris and I knew we are better hitters than what we've been showing."

    Corey Patterson scored the Cubs' final run in the fourth when he tripled to center, and went home when Craig Biggio's relay throw skipped and hit Patterson in the helmet as he was sliding into third base. The ball rolled toward the Cubs' dugout, allowing Patterson to score easily.

    Game notes

    Taveras had his 42nd multihit game of the season. He was a major league-leading 59 infield hits. ... The Cubs have homered in seven straight games. ... Burke's three RBI was a career high. ... Quintero's homered for the first time since July 2, 2004, when he was with the San Diego Padres. ... The Astros avoided losing three straight at home for the first time this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press