Wood lasts just 3 2/3 innings in Cubs' loss to Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- Astros manager Phil Garner thinks Wandy Rodriguez
might have benefited from watching Carlos Zambrano come close to a no-hitter against Houston.

Rodriguez threw seven shutout innings to lead the Astros past the Chicago Cubs 4-1 Tuesday night for their first victory since re-signing Roger Clemens.

"I thought Wandy must have paid attention to what was going on last night because he really mixed his pitches up," Garner said. "He used his changeup effectively and his fastball when he needed it."

Lance Berkman homered and Chris Burke drove in two runs as Houston broke a five-game losing streak, rebounding after getting one hit in an 8-0 loss to Zambrano and the Cubs on Monday.

Pitching on three days' rest because Roy Oswalt is injured, Rodriguez (7-3) allowed five hits, struck out one and walked three. The lefty outpitched Kerry Wood and leads the team in wins.

"This was my best game of the year," Rodriguez said through an interpreter.

Clemens was also on the mound Tuesday night, in Lexington, Ky. He showed pinpoint control and a sharp fastball during his tuneup for Houston's Class-A affiliate Lexington Legends.

Playing alongside his son, Koby, he gave up a long home run but otherwise looked like his old self in three innings of work against the Lake County Captains, a Cleveland Indians affiliate.

"My arm is great," said the 43-year-old Clemens, who came out of retirement again to re-sign with the Astros last Wednesday. "One step down, two to go."

Next up is probably a start Sunday at Double-A Corpus Christi followed by another one June 16 at Triple-A Round Rock. The Rocket could be pitching in the big leagues by June 22 against Minnesota.

Back in Houston, Chad Qualls worked a hitless eighth and Brad Lidge gave up a two-out RBI double to pinch-hitter John Mabry in the ninth before closing it out.

Preston Wilson doubled in the second inning and scored when Wood overthrew third base on a bunt by Rodriguez for an error that put Houston ahead 1-0. It was the first time the Astros had led since Wednesday against St. Louis.

"He tried to make a super play on that bunt which led to that three-run inning," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He was just trying to stop them from getting anything and he ended up getting sunk."

Houston extended its lead in the second when right fielder Jacque Jones bobbled and then dropped a long fly by Burke for a two-run triple.

Jones ended the inning when he crashed into the right-field wall to catch a fly by Berkman.

Berkman's 16th home run of the season was a 420-foot shot that landed in the right-field upper deck with two outs in the fourth inning. Morgan Ensberg followed with a double to chase Wood (1-2). He was replaced by Will Ohman, who finished the inning.

Carlos Marmol pitched the next two innings and allowed two hits and struck out three.

Wood's start was pushed back two days because of stiffness in his surgically repaired right shoulder. He gave up seven hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the season.

"I'm not sure if Kerry was pitching 100 percent," Berkman said. "I think he was in pain. I'm used to seeing him pitching around 96 or 97 [mph] and tonight he was around 90-91."

If he was in pain, Wood didn't admit it, but he did say he struggled with his location.

"My slider just wasn't really sharp today," Wood said. "It was just a get-me-over slider rather than a real one."

The 28-year-old right-hander, who entered the game one strikeout shy of 1,300 for his career, didn't record any. It was quite a departure from Wood's best game against Houston, when he struck out 20 Astros in May 1998 to tie the major league record for a game. Clemens has reached the 20-strikeout mark twice.

Another strong outing by Rodriguez has to be encouraging for the Astros, who already had Brandon Backe on the disabled list when they placed Oswalt on the 15-day DL on Tuesday.

Game notes
Berkman's home run broke a streak of four games in which the Cubs had not allowed a homer, their longest stretch since May 2005. ... Wilson had two doubles, his first game this season with two extra-base hits. ... Cubs SS Ronny Cedeno went 0-for-4, ending his career-best 10-game hitting streak. ... Houston RHP Chris
Sampson will make his first major league start on Wednesday.