Thu. Final: Cubs 11, Astros 6
HOUSTON (AP) -- Aramis Ramirez and Mike Fontenot drove in four runs apiece to lead the Chicago Cubs to an 11-6 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
Kosuke Fukudome had four hits and scored a career-high four runs for Chicago, which won an opening series for the first time since it took two of three from the New York Mets to begin the 2003 season.
Lance Berkman and Ivan Rodriguez connected for Houston, which finished with five homers. Jeff Keppinger, Kaz Matsui and Hunter Pence also went deep.
Chicago scored four runs in the first and second. Ramirez, Fontenot and Ryan Theriot had RBI singles and Derrek Lee doubled in a run in the first. Ramirez singled in a run in the second before Fontenot's three-run homer made it 8-0.
Brian Moehler (0-1) allowed seven runs and eight hits in just 1 2-3 innings, reinforcing concerns that the Astros' rotation is shaky behind ace Roy Oswalt. He was replaced by Russ Ortiz, Houston's fifth starter who is working in long relief until his first scheduled start.
Keppinger and Berkman hit back-to-back homers to make it 8-2 in the third inning. Keppinger, who was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati a week ago and drove in the winning run on Tuesday, got his first start for Houston.
Rodriguez's two-run shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field cut it to 8-4 in the fourth inning. But Ramirez doubled in Alfonso Soriano and Fukudome in the fifth to restore Chicago's six-run lead.
Ramirez went 4-for-6 and Fukudome also had a solo drive in the ninth.
Cubs starter Ted Lilly (1-0) gave up five runs and eight hits over five innings.
Notes:@ Cubs manager Lou Piniella said C Geovany Soto was going to Chicago on Thursday for what Piniella termed a "precautionary" evaluation of his sore right shoulder. Soto left Tuesday's game early and didn't play Wednesday. Piniella said Soto could be ready for Friday's game in Milwaukee. "He should be OK in a few days," Piniella said. "We'll see how he is on Friday." ... Astros RHP Brandon Backe threw 40 pitches off the mound in his first bullpen session since straining a muscle in his left side at spring training. "No tweaks, no pulls, no strains," Backe said. "But I didn't do too much out there." Manager Cecil Cooper said Backe would throw another bullpen on Friday. "He threw well, nice and easy and free," Cooper said. "He really didn't cut it loose. This was more just for him to just get on the mound and make sure I saw it." ... Astros radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton was honored before Wednesday's game when Hamilton Street was renamed Milo Hamilton Way. The 2009 season is his 25th with the team.
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