CHICAGO -- Mike Quade agreed with the umpires that Carlos Pena's ball was not a home run. What the Cubs manager didn't understand was how they could tell whether or not Starlin Castro would've scored a possible game-tying run.
Pena's potential game-winning home run was overturned by instant replay in the eighth inning, prompting Quade's seventh ejection and helping the Astros hold on for a rainy 3-2 win over the Cubs.
"It was a roller coaster of emotions in those 10 minutes or so," Pena said.
The Cubs trailed, 3-1, in the eighth when Darwin Barney reached and made it safely to third on a fielding error by right fielder Brian Bogusevic, who missed catching Barney's line drive. Castro walked, and Barney scored on pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez's sacrifice fly, which Bogusevic grabbed as he collided with the ivy-covered brick wall.
One out later, Pena launched a ball to left that appeared to bounce off the yellow cord rimming the basket of the bleachers. Pena had hesitated at second, but third-base umpire Marty Foster signaled home run. Astros manager Brad Mills challenged the call, and after the umpires reviewed the play, Pena was sent back to second base and Castro to third.
The Wrigley Field ground rules state that if a ball hits the top of the basket in front of the bleacher wall and bounces back onto the playing field, the ball is in play.
Quade knew that. But he argued that Castro could've scored on Pena's double, saying the shortstop slowed down when he saw Foster signal home run.
"The question becomes, where do you place guys?" Quade said. "They have to be 100 percent sure a guy could score. I love the technology and like the fact you can review, even though it hurt us today, but that's another piece of the puzzle, when runners react to an umpire's decision and the decision is overturned.
"They got the technique correct," Quade said. "I just wonder how you can see both things."
The infield was wet because of an all-day drizzle, so the track wasn't fast. Did Pena think Castro could've scored?
"That's tough," Pena said. "Even if he takes off with contact, that's a pretty clean pick-up and throw back in. [Tony] Campana probably would've had a tough time scoring with that low line drive off the wall."
Quade lost his argument and was ejected by Foster, the seventh time he's been tossed this season. He now has tied the single-season record for Cubs managers, shared by Johnny Evers (1913) and Frankie Frisch (1950). Quade also leads the Major Leagues this season, passing the Twins' Ron Gardenhire, who has been ejected six times.
"That's not good," Quade said. "I think in retrospect, maybe they got this right today. I'm not positive that Castro would've scored. If that's the decision, then that's fine. You do what you have to do.
"[Getting ejected] is not something I'm interested in making a regular occurrence."
Mills wasn't sure what happened on Pena's ball.
"If the ball went over the fence and came back, there's no way it's going to hit the ivy -- it's an impossibility," Mills said. "I went out there and said, 'Hey, we've got to look at this thing.'"
Marlon Byrd then flew out to right to end the inning. A light rain had fallen most of the game, and after the eighth ended, the umpires called for the tarp on the field. The game resumed after a 67-minute rain delay.
Chicago starter Ryan Dempster (10-13) took the loss. He gave up three runs over seven innings and now has thrown 190 2/3 innings. The right-hander is vying for his fourth straight season with at least 200 innings, and will start on Friday in the series opener against the Cardinals and the last game of the season against the Padres.
Whether this was Dempster's last start at Wrigley Field for the Cubs is in his control. He has a $14 million player option for 2012.
Dempster got off to a rough start when he walked the first two batters, then served up an RBI single to J.D. Martinez. Two outs later, Jimmy Paredes singled and Clint Barmes dropped a two-run single in shallow center in front of Byrd to give the Astros a 3-0 lead. Dempster needed 33 pitches to get through the first, and now has served up 33 runs in the first inning over his 32 starts.
"Other than the two walks, which were unacceptable, really, they didn't hit a ball hard," Dempster said. "I'm not taking anything away from them -- trust me, that's part of the game. The two pitches they hit were both 0-2 pitches that were both balls, and they did a good job of putting the bat on the ball and putting it in the right spot. It's unfortunate, because those runs there cost us the game."
Castro doubled to lead off the first, his National League-leading 195th hit, and he scored one out later on Bryan LaHair's sacrifice fly. That was it until the eighth. With the win, Brett Myers (6-13) improved to 13-3 lifetime against the Cubs.
The Cubs dropped to 37-41 at Wrigley Field with three home games remaining against the division-leading Brewers.
"It's our home turf," Dempster said. "We want to go out and win some games and have them not do that. I know they've had a good year, but I could care less about anybody clinching on our field."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.