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updated: 7/23/2011 5:25 PM

Cubs' Wells wins for first time since April

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  • Geovany Soto, left, is greeted at home by Marlon Byrd after his home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez during the fifth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field.

      Geovany Soto, left, is greeted at home by Marlon Byrd after his home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez during the fifth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Randy Wells finally overcame a first inning jam to win his first game in over three months.

Wells pitched six strong innings to earn his first victory since April 4 and Geovany Soto added a solo shot and an RBI single in the ninth to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 victory over the major league-worst Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon.

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Marlon Byrd also homered for the Cubs, who will try to win three in a row on Sunday for the first time this season.

Wells (2-3) allowed one run on five hits. He struck out four and pitched around two walks.

Wells, who gave up a combined 12 runs in the first innings of his previous five outings, allowed a leadoff single to Michael Bourn and walked Angel Sanchez to start the game. After Hunter Pence popped out, the right-hander ended the inning by getting Carlos Lee swinging and Chris Johnson looking.

"For a second there, I thought here we go again. I just tried to stay calm and make pitches. I was able to make some key pitches there and get some big outs and I was able to escape it. It was good. It got me a little fired up and ready to go then I tried to take it through each inning," said Wells.

Chicago's bullpen backed up Wells. Marshall struck out pinch-hitter Matt Downs to end the eighth, leaving runners at first and second. Cubs closer Carlos Marmol was back in his normal role after struggling with control issues.

Cubs manager Mike Quade temporarily removed Marmol as the closer earlier in the week. In his five previous appearances, Marmol allowed eight walks, but in a non-save situation on Saturday, Marmol was just as wild. After allowing a leadoff single, he hit Carlos Corporan, but then rebounded by retiring the next three batters.

Soto said winning three in a row isn't important mentally for the Cubs, who won two straight for the first time since June 29-30.

"Not really. Three in a row hasn't happened yet, but we don't look at it that way. We're not really concern. We just want to have (good) ballgames and try to get into a rhythm. We've been on and off the whole year and we just want to have a mental breather to just get into rhythm, get everything to click and have everything go our way for a little bit," said Soto.

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-7) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out seven and walked one.

"Wandy did an absolutely outstanding job, threw the ball really well. Usually the solo shots don't hurt you. Today, it got him behind and we were having problems knocking in runners in scoring position," said Astros manager Brad Mills.

The Astros have lost 14 of its last 18 road games and six straight overall. Houston has gone 27 straight hits without an extra base hit.

"It's tough. Myself, I'm making good contact, but I can't get any elevation on the ball. I don't know why. My swing seems like it's pretty good, I just can't get any elevation. I'm hitting hard line drives, but on the ground. I don't know how to explain it. We had opportunities to score a lot of runs in these two games but we never come up with the big hits. We need to score runs," said Lee.

After winning in his season debut against the Diamondbacks, Wells went nine straight outings without picking up win. The right-hander was 0-3 with a 7.38 ERA in his nine previous starts and gave up at least four runs in five consecutive starts.

After his first start of the season, Wells missed nearly two months with a right forearm strain.

"Obviously it was disappointing to come in after having the spring I had to have to go on the shelf that early. It's been a process trying to get back to where you want to be, battling aches and pains, stuff like that trying to get healthy," said Wells.

In the second inning, Byrd gave the Cubs a lead with a home run to center field on a 2-2 pitch from Rodriguez. It was Byrd's fifth of the season.

Soto led off the fifth with a solo shot on an 0-2 pitch. It was Soto's ninth of the season.

Lee cut the Cubs' lead with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Sanchez scored from second, just beating Byrd's throw from center.

The Cubs added insurance runs in the ninth. Kosuke Fukudome, who came in as a defensive replacement hit a triple off Astros reliever Sergio Escalona. Fukudome ended up scoring on Starlin Castro's infield single off reliever Fernando Rodriguez. With the bases loaded, Soto hit a hard grounder at third baseman Chris Johnson. Johnson made a diving stop, but made an errant throw to first allowing two runs to score to make it 5-1.

NOTES: Astros third base coach Dave Clark missed the game to attend a funeral. Bench coach Al Pedrique filled in for Clark. ... The announced attendance was 40,486 putting the Cubs over the 2 million mark for the 2011 season. ... Corporan left the game after getting hit on the right foot. Mills said he expects him to be fine.

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