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FLA@HOU: Wandy throws seven frames of one-run ball

For the second consecutive season under manager Brad Mills, the Astros are off to a rough start, going into Wednesday's rubber game against the Cubs 3-8 overall.

During the tough early going, Mills has preached confidence and professionalism to his players, and his positivity appears to be rubbing off. After going winless in its first five games, Houston earned its third win of the season -- and second in its last three games -- Tuesday against the Cubs, with an impressive 11-2 rout.

"Just continue to go about your business and continue to prepare the way you do as winning players," Mills said of his message to the team. "As a staff and a manager, that's what we're doing. We're keeping the guys committed to prepare to be able to play the game to the best of their abilities. The last few games, the guys have played extremely well. They've done a real good job."

One reason for Houston's win Tuesday was the pitching of right-hander Brett Myers, who allowed only one run in seven innings. On Wednesday, the Astros will send out another pitcher with high-quality stuff in left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, 6.55 ERA), who will face Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.25).

Rodriguez fell victim to his bullpen in his last start, settling for a no-decision despite holding the Marlins to one run in seven innings.

Zambrano is coming off his first win of the season, gutting through his final inning, the sixth, to earn the victory. He left after throwing 112 pitches, allowing four runs on seven hits.

"The sixth inning was impressive," Cubs manager Mike Quade said after Zambrano's last start. "He was tiring, and I asked him for one inning. He wasn't as sharp as we've seen him, but he did real well."

In 31 games (29 starts) against the Astros, Zambrano is 14-8 with a 2.63 ERA. His 14 wins against Houston are his second-most against any opponent, behind only his 16 against the Reds.

Cubs: Barney has team believing
Despite going 0-for-4 on Tuesday, second baseman Darwin Barney has impressed the organization in the season's early going. In 10 games, the 25-year-old is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with one triple and three RBIs, and his success comes as no surprise to general manager Jim Hendry. "Everybody thought he was a big leaguer," said Hendry of the club's fourth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. "I remember at the beginning of the Draft, everybody said this guy is a winner."

• Although James Russell's first Major League start Tuesday didn't go as well as he had hoped, the young pitcher did make history. Russell and fellow Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman are the first sons of big league pitchers to appear in the same rotation at the same time. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two times previously have a pair of sons of former big league pitchers made a start for the same team in the same season. In 2000, Jamie Navarro (son of Julio) and Jaret Wright (son of Clyde) each started for Cleveland. In 1964, Lew Krausse Jr. and Aurelio Monteagudo (son of Rene) each started for the Kansas City Athletics.

Astros: Mills to return Wednesday
Mills will return to the bench Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday's game due to a one-game suspension by Major League Baseball, which stemmed from his ejection in Sunday's game against the Marlins. Mills was also fined an undisclosed amount. Unlike Aneury Rodriguez -- who was fined and suspended for three games but is appealing the ruling -- Mills was unable to appeal his verdict. There's no doubt, if he'd been able to, he would have. "I disagree with it whole-heartedly," Mills said.

Worth noting
Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome (hamstring strain) missed his second straight game Tuesday. ... The Astros' 16 hits Tuesday tied the season high they set Sunday. The club now has knocked out 10 or more hits in five straight games. ... Astros outfielder Carlos Lee is hitting .379 (22-for-58) with six doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs against Zambrano in his career. Comments