HOUSTON (AP) - The Chicago Cubs got the quality pitching they needed to extend their winning ways Tuesday night.
The offense, on the other hand, failed to deliver.
The Cubs wasted a strong five-inning outing by right-hander Justin Germano, mustering just six hits and stranding 11 runners in a 1-0 loss to the Houston Astros that ended a four-game winning streak.
``It was a shame we got that kind of pitching from everybody and had plenty of chances to score and couldn't get a hit when it counted it,' Chicago manager Dale Sveum said.
Chicago was held to two runs or fewer for the first time since Sept. 6, a 9-2 loss at Washington.
The Cubs outscored their opponents 24-8 in their previous four victories, which included a series sweep at Pittsburgh.
Germano (2-7) was charged with an unearned run and three hits to extend his losing streak to five starts.
``It was a tough loss for the team. Anytime you lose by one run, it's tough, especially if it is an unearned run,' Germano said. ``On the positive side, it was good to get a good outing out there. My last four definitely had been that good.'
Germano, whose eight strikeouts tied a career high set July 9, 2006 at Milwaukee, last won a game Aug. 15, against the Astros.
``He did a great job,' Sveum said. ``He had everything working today. He was able to get the ball to the far side today a lot better than he has in the pa`st.'
Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Jeff Beliveau and Manuel Corpas combined to pitch four scoreless innings in relief for the Cubs.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles (4-11) gave up just two hits over five innings. He struck out five and walking two for the Astros, who won for the third time in five games.
Justin Maxwell drove in the winning run for the Astros in the third inning with a one-out sacrifice fly.
Maxwell scored Jimmy Paredes, who singled and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Steve Clevenger that also allowed Fernando Martinez to reach safely.
The defensive blunders didn't stop there.
Starlin Castro picked up his 24th error of the season in the eighth inning to lead NL shortstops.
For Sveum, it came down to offense - or the lack thereof.
``It's a shame to come to a hitter's park like this and walk out of here with a shutout,' Sveum said.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo left the game in the third inning with a sore right shoulder and upper back, resulting from a violent collision with first baseman Brett Wallace that had Rizzo hitting the ground hard.
Rizzo hit a grounder to second baseman Paredes, whose throw to first was high, causing Wallace to jump to try and catch it. Rizzo collided with Wallace while Wallace was in the air and tumbled violently to the ground.
``I was just stunned, dazed, at first,' Rizzo said. ``That's why at first I didn't move.'
Rizzo complained of soreness in his back and right but otherwise said he was OK.
``It was an ugly fall,' Rizzo said. ``I'm going to see how I feel tomorrow.'
The Cubs were unable to bank on a four-error night by the Astros that included a hat trick by Paredes, who was filling in for All-Star Jose Altuve at second base.
The Cubs blew a huge chance in the sixth. With one out and runners on scoring position after a single by Castro and a double by pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt, pinch-hitter Darwin Barney flied into a double play that had Sappelt out at third just as Castro was about to step on home plate.
Chicago got runners on base again in the ninth, but Astros reliever Wilton Lopez got David DeJesus to fly out and struck out Luis Valbuena to end the game and earn the save, his fourth of the season.
Things were rough from the start for the Cubs' offense.
Chicago had the bases loaded with one out in the first, thanks in part to two walks by Lyles and a single by Bryan LaHair in between. But Lyles got Germano to ground into a forceout that had Clevenger out at home, and DeJesus followed with a fly out to deep center to end the inning.
``That was kind of the big back breaker to start the game off,' Sveum said. ``We just couldn't get that hit today when we got everybody on base.'
NOTES: Houston activated SS Jed Lowrie before Monday night's game, but he did not play. He has been on the DL since July 15 with an injured nerve in his right leg. ... Sappelt's double was his third of the series, after hitting two on Monday.
The Associated Press News Service
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