HOUSTON (AP) - After seeing his third pitch of the night fly high for a home run, Chicago Cubs left-hander Travis Wood figured his night couldn't get any worse for him.
He was right.
It was the Cubs' flimsy offense that again let the team down Tuesday night, wasting a solid start by Wood in a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros to extend their losing streak to a season-high eight games.
``I don't know what we have to do to win one game and hit more, because right now we are struggling,' said Alfonso Soriano, who provided the Cubs' only run of the night with his fourth homer of the season.
Soriano's homer, which tied the score in the fourth inning, came off Astros left-hander J.A. Happ, ending a scoring drought against starting pitchers that spanned three games.
Chicago has now gone 59 frames without holding a lead at the end of an inning.
The Cubs have not won a game since May 14 at St. Louis. The slide is their longest since losing eight in a row last May 30-June 7.
Happ (4-3) pitched six solid innings for the Astros, limiting Chicago to Soriano's home run and four other hits while striking six in the process.
He benefited from Jose Altuve's leadoff home run and J.D. Martinez's go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning for his second win in as many starts.
Brett Myers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth - striking out two - for his 11th save in 12 chances for the Astros.
Wood, who was making his second start with the Cubs after being called up earlier Tuesday from Triple-A Iowa, had no such help from his offense, wasting what Cubs manager Dale Sveum deemed an impressive outing after a rather rough start.
``When your first batter of the ball game hits a home run, I guess everything's out of the way,' Wood said. ``You already gave up a hit; you already gave up a run. Not much left to do but to bear down and get after it.'
That he did.
Altuve's homer was one of two hits Wood (0-1) allowed in the first inning, after which he retired 17 of the 19 batters he faced.
``That was huge, to get out of that (first inning) with just one,' Sveum said. ``Punched a couple of guys out. Just did a really, really good job.'
After allowing Jed Lowrie a double following the homer, Wood retired eight in a row before walking Lowrie with two outs in the third inning and nine straight after that before walking Justin Maxwell with two outs in the sixth to end his outing.
``We were able to battle and stay in the ballgame,' Wood said. ``Unfortunately it didn't work out for us. (It was an) untimely two-out walk there in the sixth that can't happen.'
Maxwell would later score on Martinez's RBI single off reliever Shawn Camp to give the Astros the winning run.
Chicago came close to tying it with one out in the eighth after a two-base error by Astros reliever Wilton Lopez allowed pinch-runner Tony Campana to reach third in spectacular fashion.
Campana, who replaced Reed Johnson after a single to second, took advantage of Lopez's errant throw to first and took off. The throw to third base arrived in time, but Matt Downs had to leave the bag and go low to catch it, allowing Campana to dive over him Superman-style and crawl back to the base safely.
Lopez dug himself out of the hole by striking out Starlin Castro and Soriano to deny the Cubs.
``That was unbelievable,' Soriano said of Campana's effort. ``That (dive) that he made gave us the opportunity to tie the game, but we came up short.'
The home run proved to be of little consolation for Soriano, whose four homers have come over the last games.
``It's not enough to win,' Soriano said. ``It's better to win games. I don't care about my homers because I know I have been hitting homers for 12 years. The more important thing is to get wins.'
The Cubs will need more clutch hitting for that to happen.
``We just can't seem to get anything going,' Sveum said. ``With Campana there, that was huge. That was too bad. We just can't seem to get that three-run shot.'
NOTES: The Cubs placed C Welington Castillo on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee to make room on the roster for Wood. ... Sveum said he will miss Wednesday's game to attend his son's high school graduation in Arizona. Bench coach Jamie Quirk will fill in while he's gone.
The Associated Press News Service
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