Chicago, IL – Bryan LaHair hit a game-winning, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Chicago Cubs downed the Houston Astros, 5-4, Wednesday in the regular-season finale for both teams at Wrigley Field.
"It's nice to have a walk-off win to finish the year off and after the problems with the season and everything like that, the best way you can finish the season is be at home and have a walk-off win," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
The matchup marked the last meeting between Houston (55-107) and Chicago (61-101) as foes in the NL Central, as MLB division realignment has the Astros beginning play next season in the AL West.
"They're ready to go home," Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "It's been a long season and a lot of them are leaving right from here to their home, and some are going to Houston, but like I said, it's been a memory I'll always have."
After Anthony Recker walked and Tony Campana laid down a bunt single for Chicago in the ninth, Astros reliever Hector Ambriz (1-1) walked Starlin Castro to bring up LaHair with two outs.
LaHair delivered with a single to right field on the first pitch from Ambriz, snapping a two-game losing streak for Chicago to end the season on a high note.
Carlos Marmol (3-3) pitched a scoreless ninth for Chicago to earn the victory.
Justin Maxwell went 2-for-3 with a three-run home run and Carlos Corporan had an RBI for Houston, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Chicago starter Travis Wood gave the Cubs 6 1/3 quality innings in taking a no-decision, surrendering one run on three hits. He walked five and struck out four, and further helped himself by knocking in two runs.
Houston's Edgar Gonzalez lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks while striking out one.
But Fernando Abad, Jose Valdez, Mickey Storey and Fernando Rodriguez combined to pitch 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for Houston, allowing no hits and giving the Astros a chance to climb back into the game in the late innings.
Houston got off to a quick 1-0 lead in the first after Corporan singled to drive in Matt Dominguez, who had earlier gotten on base with a fielder's choice and moved to second on Maxwell's walk.
The Cubs answered in the second with a leadoff solo blast off the bat of LaHair, tying the score at 1-1.
Both teams stranded runners in scoring position in the third before the Cubs took a three-run lead in the fourth.
After Dave Sappelt and Josh Vitters both singled, Brett Jackson drew a walk to load the bases. Gonzalez next issued another walk to Recker, putting Chicago up 2-1, then gave up a two-run single to Wood.
The Cubs couldn't hold the lead in the eighth, however, with Houston getting back to even.
With Chicago reliever Shawn Camp on the mound, Jed Lowrie reached base on a fielding error by Jackson, and Dominguez followed with a walk. That brought up Maxwell, who tied the game at 4-4 by cranking a three-run shot into the bleachers in left field.
After Marmol held steady in the ninth, the Cubs came up for one last chance against Ambriz, who also pitched Houston through the eighth inning.
This is the first season Chicago has lost 101 games since 1966, when the Cubs lost 103 (also done in 1962) ... Houston is now 168-184 at Wrigley Field in the history of the franchise.