Bourn hits another gear in win over Cubs
Astros outfielder goes 3-for-4 with three RBIs, eyes cycle
CHICAGO -- In the moments following Monday's one-run loss to the Cubs, Astros center fielder Michael Bourn lamented squandering a chance to reach third base to begin the fourth inning, choosing instead to pull up at second and settle for a double.Bourn, who was thrown out at the plate later in that inning, made sure not to settle for anything on Tuesday night, going 3-for-4 with a double, triple, stolen base, two runs scored and a season-high three RBIs to send the Astros past the Cubs, 7-3, at Wrigley Field. "We were able to hold them off and poured it on even after we had four [runs] and were able to get to seven, and that was enough for our pitching staff to hold them down," said Bourn, who recorded a triple and a double in the same game for the first time in his career. Bourn didn't wait to set the tone, hitting the fourth pitch of the game from Cubs right-hander Carlos Silva into right-center. Instead of stopping at second base for a double, like he did the night before, Bourn raced to third for a stand-up triple. He scored on Jeff Keppinger's single. "[On Monday], I made a mistake and cost us a run, I think," Bourn said. "I take blame for that, but today, when I saw the ball I hit, I said, 'I'm not stopping.'" And he didn't stop there, either. Bourn drove in two runs with a two-out double in the second inning, beat out an infield single, stole second and scored in the fifth and lifted a sacrifice fly to right field in the sixth. He had another shot for a home run to complete the cycle, but struck out in his final at-bat. "I think the last couple of games he's been absolutely outstanding getting on [base]," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He swung the bat and ran the bases extremely well, and that was a big two-out knock. He's got to get those two runs in. That was big." Nelson Figueroa (5-2) won his second consecutive start for the Astros and picked up his career-high fifth victory of the season, allowing six hits and three runs in five innings. Four Houston relievers combined to toss four scoreless innings, including two by Tim Byrdak. The Astros retired the final 12 batters of the game. Figueroa, working on a day in which the wind was gusting to the outfield, gave up two runs in a 22-pitch first inning and survived by keeping the ball down in the zone and out of the breeze. "If they were going to beat me, they were going to beat me on the ground and to the gap," said Figueroa, who improved to 4-0 against National League Central teams this year. "I wasn't going to give up a home run. They put a lot of lefties in the lineup, and I felt I had good success here last year. When you get into this ballpark and the wind is blowing out, it changes your game plan a little bit. I tried to be aggressive and get them to hit my pitches early." Houston tied the game at 2 in the second when rookie first baseman Brett Wallace blasted his first career homer -- a leadoff shot to center field. The homer came in Wallace's 89th career Major League at-bat. He hit 18 homers in 395 Minor League at-bats this year. "It's been a process day-to-day," Wallace said. "I'm not swinging the bat as well as I always wanted to, but I stayed confident. And the coaches and everyone have been doing a great job trying to keep me in there and keep me going. I always knew it would come, but it was a matter of being patient. I finally put a good swing on a pitch right there." The Astros weren't through in the second, with rookies Tommy Manzella and Jason Castro following Wallace with singles. Figueroa put down a sacrifice bunt to push them into scoring position, and Bourn capped a terrific at-bat against Silva by hitting a 3-2 pitch to left field for a two-run double that put the Astros ahead, 4-2. Silva (10-6) gave up nine hits and six runs in five innings in his first start since Aug. 1. "First time out, stuff-wise, he did OK," Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said. "His changeup was good. He had confidence in his pitches. It's a good first step back toward getting back to where he normally is." The Cubs got within a run on a Tyler Colvin RBI triple in the third before Bourn made things happen for the Astros again in the fifth. Bourn led off the inning by scorching a grounder to first baseman Micah Hoffpauir, who scurried to flip to Silva, but he couldn't beat Bourn's head-first slide to the base for an infield hit. Bourn immediately stole second and scored on a single by Keppinger, who came around on a double by Hunter Pence to stretch the lead to 6-3. "I just try to contribute how I can each day," Bourn said. "Sometimes you have games like this, and sometimes you have one hit and it might be the deciding factor, or you might get a walk. Whatever it is, I'm trying to do something. It might be on defense. Whatever I can, I'm going to try to do." And it was more than enough for the Astros on this night. "It's a pleasure to play with him and be a teammate on the days I'm not even pitching because he's always right there, sparking our team," Figueroa said. "If he gets on, it's a lot of trouble for the other team. They've always got to worry about if he's going to steal, hit and run. Keppinger has been great in the two-hole with him. When we're healthy and full strength, we're a lot of fun to watch."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.