Cubs 8, Astros 3

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hero: Carlos Zambrano (11-6) allowed three runs - two earned - on three hits over 6 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three. Zambrano won his final eight decisions and posted a 1.24 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Goat: Xavier Nady - who went 1-for-5 - struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning and flew out wityh two on to end the second.

Key Play: Aramis Ramirez hit his 25th home run of the season and ninth career grand slam off Houston starter J.A. Happ (6-4) in the fourth inning.Ramirez became the sixth Cubs player with six 25-home run campaigns. The others: Sammy Sosa (12 times), Ernie Banks (10), Billy Williams (10), Ryne Sandberg (8), and Ron Santo (8).

Comments: The Cubs (75-86) improved to 24-12 overall and 17-4 in road games under interim manager Mike Quade.

James Russell, Justin Berg, Scott Maine, and Marcos Mateo retired the final eight Houston batters. Cubs relievers have worked 26 consecutive scoreless innings and have a 1.22 ERA in their last 24 games.

Marlon Byrd went 2-for-5 and drove in three while Starlin Castro went 2-for-3 with a double to raise his average to .300. Castro is trying to become just the fourth 20-year-old rookie shortstop to hit .300 or better. The others were Alex Rodriguez (.358 in 1996), Arky Vaughan (.318 in 1932), and Travis Jackson (.302 in 1924).

Next: The winner of Sunday's season finale (CSN, 1:05 p.m.) between the Cubs and Astros (75-86) will finish in fourth in the National League Central.

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (15-11, 3.83 ERA) has won his last six road assignments and has posted a 1.09 ERA over that stretch.

Houston starter Nelson Figueroa (6-4, 3.52) is 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA in his nine starts this season.

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