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Chicago Cubs Beat Houston Astros 4-0, Maholm Gets First Win In 7 Weeks

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CHICAGO CUBS HOUSTON ASTROS
Chicago Cubs starter Paul Maholm throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) | AP

CHICAGO -- Paul Maholm pitched into the ninth inning to earn his first win in seven weeks and the Chicago Cubs hit three homers in a 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday.

Maholm (5-6) allowed four hits over 8 1-3 innings in his 200th major league start, earning his first win since he tossed seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over Atlanta on May 9. The left-hander was 0-4 with a 6.43 ERA in his previous eight outings.

Brian Bixler started the Houston ninth with a base hit and Carlos Lee's one-out double put runners on second and third before Carlos Marmol finished for his sixth save in eight chances.

Marmol plunked Chris Snyder to load the bases with two down, but Chris Johnson lined to third to end the game.

Jordan Schafer and Matt Downs had the only other hits for Houston against Maholm, who struck out six, walked one and hit a batter. Schafer's third-inning single came on a fly ball that fell in front of left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and Matt Downs singled in the eighth.

The start of the game was delayed 55 minutes by rain, but the damp conditions didn't seem to bother the Cubs.

Luis Valbuena hit a two-out solo homer off Bud Norris (5-5) in the second. Steve Clevenger belted a two-run shot in the fourth for his first major league homer, and Soriano connected in the sixth.

All 15 of Soriano's homers have come since May 15.

Norris allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He came off the disabled list earlier in the day after being sidelines with a sprained left knee.

Houston put the first two men on in the third, but Downs was thrown out at third with Norris attempting to bunt, dousing the rally. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro ended the inning by roaming behind second to flag down Bixler's grounder and throw him out.

Bixler hit a long drive to center in the sixth, but David DeJesus leaped into the ivy to pull it down. The Cubs nearly doubled off Norris, who had walked, but Castro's relay throw was wild past first, allowing Norris to move to third.

NOTES: SS Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup to rest following the Astros' difficult 7-3 loss to the Padres on Thursday night, but hit in the eighth. 2B Jose Altuve sat out a fifth straight game (right hamstring). ... Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, on the DL with a lat injury, played catch and hopes to throw off the mound sometime this weekend. ... Astros 1B Carlos Lee got hit in the groin area by a hard-hopper off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the ninth but was able to regroup and stay in the game.

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