HOUSTON (AP) - Houston's Wandy Rodriguez had been great in his last 11 starts at home.
Things changed in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
Chicago jumped on Rodriguez for five runs in the first and held off an Astros rally to defeat Houston 9-5.
After getting a two-RBI double by Jeff Baker, Alfonso Soriano capped the first by hitting a fastball for a three-run home run.
Those were the only runs Rodriguez (0-2) gave up in five innings on nine hits and four strikeouts. But the lefty, who had 11 quality starts at home dating to June 24, 2010, was not happy with his pitch selection to Soriano.
``I made one mistake,' Rodriguez said. ``I threw a lot of fastballs to Soriano. I was throwing him inside. I needed to throw another pitch in that situation. Every time I go out I try to do the best I can. I had a bad day today in that first inning.'
Astros manager Brad Mills was most upset that all the runs came with two outs in the inning.
``Five runs with two outs, that's tough,' Mills said. ``A three-run home run with two outs, that's tough.'
Rodriguez, who hadn't lost to the Cubs since Aug. 6, 2007, was 5-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his last 11 home starts before Wednesday.
``Wandy is so good and has done such a good job in this ballpark, even last year with throwing the ball,' Mills said. ``To give up those two out runs, his stuff is so good and he's done such a good job, it's a little bit of a shock.'
Both Mills and Rodriguez were happy with the way the pitcher was able to bounce back after the rough first. Rodriguez got into trouble again in the third with three consecutive singles to start the inning, but the Astros turned a double play to get Aramis Ramirez at home. Then Rodriguez escaped the inning by striking out Tyler Colvin.
Trailing 6-0 in the sixth after Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (2-0) homered off Fernando Abad in the top of the inning, Houston had a five-run rally capped by a two-run homer by Matt Downs.
``The guys were able to come back with the five-run sixth inning to really give us a shot to get back in it,' Mills said. ``You really have to like our aggressiveness, the way the guys have swung the bats the last few games.'
Downs, who started at third for Chris Johnson, finished 2 for 3 with a double and home run. He said Zambrano threw a lot of fastballs and challenged the hitters after getting the big cushion, so he waited for his pitch and hit it.
Still, the Astros continue their early struggles and have dropped their fourth straight series.
``I think the last two or three days we have done the same thing where we are fighting at the plate and bouncing back,' Downs said. ``I think we fight until the end every night. We're just hanging tough and need to catch some breaks here or there and get some runs.'
NOTES: Houston 3B Johnson was out of the lineup after being hit in the arm with a pitch a day before. Johnson said his arm was sore and swollen but that he should be able to play on Thursday. ... Several Astros, including Hunter Pence and Johnson along with manager Brad Mills, attended a lunch hosted by President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara on Wednesday. The former president chooses a handful of players and staff each season to attend the event.
The Associated Press News Service
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