CHICAGO (AP) - A dejected Hunter Pence stood at his locker, mired in disbelief.
``Today, my performance was awful. I let everyone down,' he said. ``This is one of the worst games I feel I've been a part of.'
Blinded by the sun, Pence was unable to track down Marlon Byrd's flyball, which ended up as a leadoff triple in the 10th inning and later turned into the winning run in the Chicago Cubs' 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker's walkoff single with the bases loaded drove in Byrd to help the Cubs complete their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field in nearly two years.
Byrd led off the extra frame with a deep fly ball to right-center. Pence was in the area to catch it, but ran right past where the ball eventually fell.
``I never even saw the ball,' Pence said. ``I saw the ball off the bat. I was running, but it never came out of the sun. I was looking, looking, looking, and I heard it hit the ground. I was trying to get there. I really don't know what I could have done better on that play because of the sun in my face, but there's no excuse. It's a major league ballgame.'
``It's not the first time I've made a horrendous play in this outfield. No flyball is easy here. It's the toughest one I've ever played in.'
Astros reliever David Carpenter (0-1) then struck out Geovany Soto, and after intentional walks to Tony Campana and Darwin Barney, Baker ended the game with a liner down the left-field line.
``We wanted to face a guy that hadn't been in the game yet,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``He put a good swing on a pretty good pitch.'
Cubs reliever John Grabow (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th inning to earn the win.
Chicago had to come back after the bullpen blew another impressive start by Matt Garza. In his third straight start, Garza left after seven innings with the lead only to have it given away by the bullpen.
Cubs manager Mike Quade gave Garza the option to start the eighth but the right-hander, already having thrown 107 pitches, declined after further consideration.
``Being a competitor, it is always, 'Yeah,' right out of the gates,' Garza said. ``But then I sat down and thought about it a little bit before the inning started, then I said, 'No.''
Garza was done in by reliever Jeff Samardzija in the eighth. With a 2-1 lead, Samardzija allowed a leadoff walk to Pence, then gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Lee to give the Astros a 4-3 lead. Before Lee's home run, Samardzija went 12 1-3 innings without allowing an earned run.
Lee has hit 36 home runs in his career against the Cubs with 101 RBIs.
``We went out there and battled, battled, battled,' Lee said. ``It's one of those situations that seems like nothing goes right, no matter what. Always something is going to happen. It doesn't matter how good we play.'
The Cubs rallied in the bottom of the eighth. Byrd led off with a single off Astros reliever Wilton Lopez and he advanced to third on Soto's single. Alfonso Soriano tied it with a broken-bat single to left.
Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol pitched out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the ninth. He struck out Pence, then ended the inning by getting Lee to pop out to center.
Soto and Barney had a pair of RBI doubles for the Cubs, who swept an opponent at home for the first time since taking three straight from Cincinnati on July 24-26, 2009.
The Cubs also recorded their first three-game win streak of the season.
Garza allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings, while striking out nine. He hasn't won since July 27.
Clint Barmes also hit a solo home run for the major-league worst Astros, who have lost seven straight on the road.
Astros starter Jordan Lyles rebounded after a three-run second inning to pitch six innings. He allowed three runs and nine hits while striking out five. The 20-year-old rookie is still in search of his first major league win.
Trailing 1-0 in the second inning, Byrd led off with a double and scored on Soto's double. After Soriano struck out, Barney doubled down the right-field line to drive in Soto. Garza followed with a single to right to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. It was Garza's first RBI in the majors.
Barmes' first-inning home run ended Houston's streak of 27 consecutive hits without an extra-base hit. Barmes connected on Garza's 1-1 pitch in the first inning for his sixth of the season.
Notes: Astros C Carlos Corporan, who left after getting hit on the right foot by a pitch Saturday, suffered a bruise, but isn't expected to miss extended time.
The Associated Press News Service
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