Published October 01, 2012
CHICAGO – For all the struggles the Cubs have had over the last five decades or so, they haven't reached this milestone for futility in a while. The Cubs got loss No. 100 on Monday night, the first time they've reached that number since 1966.
Lucas Harrell threw six shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros to a 3-0 win Monday night.
Four Houston pitchers combined on a two-hitter and Fernando Martinez homered for the third consecutive game.
"It didn't quite seem like a playoff atmosphere," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "There was a little bit of sleepwalking at the plate. Are guys ready to get out of here? I don't know. I won't put words in anybody's mouth. We didn't take out at bats like we wanted to stick around."
The Astros avoided their franchise-record 107th loss in the opener of their final series in the National League before they move to the American League next season.
The Cubs lost 100 games in a season for the first time since 1966 and were shut out for the 14th time this season. Chicago has lost more than 99 games twice, setting the franchise record of 103 losses in 1962 and 1966. The Cubs have dropped 12 of their last 14.
"I hope (the young guys) learn it's not fun when we lose," Alfonso Soriano said in a very quiet Cubs clubhouse. "Baseball is fun when you win. It doesn't matter how much money you make, it's not fun when you lose."
Houston has matched its franchise record for losses with 106, but the Astros have won four of their last five and are 14-14 since Sept. 1.
Harrell (11-11) struck out seven in six scoreless innings for his first victory since Aug. 14, which was also against the Cubs. He walked one and allowed two hits, a single by David DeJesus and a double by Anthony Rizzo. Harrell retired the last nine batters he faced.
"Lucas, we were only going to go five innings with him. We weren't going to take him over 100 pitches," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He really pitched well with confidence, he fell behind early and all of a sudden he got locked in. A two-hit shutout here is a pretty special game."
Jose Valdez, Fernando Rodriguez and Wesley Wright did not allow a hit in the final three innings. Martinez's sixth home run was a leadoff shot off Jason Berken in the second inning for a 1-0 lead.
Matt Dominguez hit an RBI triple to left field in the fourth inning after Martinez singled. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano's throw home bounced past catcher Welington Castillo as Martinez scored for a 2-0 lead.
Scott Moore's RBI single in the eighth off Shawn Camp put the Astros ahead 3-0. Berken (0-3) allowed two runs in 4 2-3 innings in his final start of the season.
According to STATS, LLC, the last time two teams with 100 losses or more played was Sept. 30, 1962. The Cubs were involved then, too — they faced the New York Mets.
Houston and Chicago are set to play Tuesday night.
"It's a long season, but it's not over," Soriano said. "We still have two more games. Hopefully we win them."
NOTES: ... The Astros are playing their final series in the NL against the same team they played in the first game in franchise history. The Houston Colt .45s beat the Cubs 11-2 on April 10, 1962. The Astros are 374-328 against the Cubs, their most victories against any opponent. .Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro played in his 160th game and could play in all 162, which would make him the first Cub to play in all 162 games at shortstop. His 159 starts at shortstop surpassed the single-season franchise mark of 158 starts at shortstop set by Ivan DeJesus (1978) and Don Kessinger (1968). . Astros bench coach Joe Pettini left the team for the final series due to a death in his family and will be replaced on the bench by catching and advance scouting coordinator Matt Sinatro. .Cubs right-hander Chris Volstad (3-11, 6.64 ERA) will start Tuesday against Houston right-hander Bud Norris (6-13, 4.82).