After a couple days off due to a rainout in Pittsburgh and a scheduled off day on Thursday, the Cubs (24-30) traveled to Houston to take on the Astros (21-34).

The days off didn’t help the Cubs or their struggling offense. Lou Piniella’s so called changes to the lineup disappered as Sweet Lou inserted Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez back into the 3 and 4 slots. Ryan Theriot also found his way back into the starting lineup playing 2nd base.

Felipe Paulino (1-7) picked up his 1st “W” of the season as he held the Cubs’ anemic offense in check. Paulino went 8 innings and allowed only 1 earned run on 5 hits. The righty walked only 2 while striking out 7 Cubs. Matt Lindstrom shut the door in the 9th and recorded his 12th save of the season.

There was a lot of anticipation built up for the series opener thanks to the return of Chicago’s “ace” Carlos Zambrano (1-4) to the starting rotation. Zambrano threw 85 pitches in 4.1 innings of work and allowed all 3 Astros’ runs. Chicago’s bullpen was solid, combining for 3.2 shutout innings.

Much to the dismay of Cub fans, the offense led by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez pounded out a whole 5 hits. Chicago’s 3-4 hitters went a combined 1-7. Marlon Byrd batted leadoff and had 2 hits including the only Cub RBI that scored Starlin Castro.

Ryan Dempster (3-5) will be charged to even up the series on Saturday vs. Roy Oswalt (3-7) and the Astros.

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