How it happened: It was simply too much Travis Wood for the Astros as the Cubs starter got it done multiple ways Saturday. His brilliant outing started by retiring the first 12 batters he faced. He gave up just three hits the entire day and one was on a bad call by an umpire. Wood also provided a leadoff double in a three-run sixth inning. Anthony Rizzo brought home Wood with a single and Jeff Baker had a two-run double.
What it means: Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair were named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday, but Wood might just be the best thing going on the Cubs right now. The left-hander has now given up one earned run or less in three consecutive starts and has done it four times since the start of June. To put his last three outings another way, he has given up just one run combined in outings against the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and Astros.
Outside the box: Make that six saves for Carlos Marmol, all since June 15 when he closed out a victory against the Boston Red Sox. Aside from an outing against Arizona in that stretch when he gave up two hits and a run, Marmol has been dominating. His return to former glory is due in part to trusting his fastball more, something the coaching staff had been insisting on since spring training.
Off beat: There is no doubt first-base umpire Paul Schrieber made a bad call when the Astros’ Brian Bixler was ruled safe at first base. But it didn’t have to be such a bang-bang play that left doubt in the umpire’s mind. Rizzo took the throw from Darwin Barney against his body, something he has done on occasion since he arrived to the Cubs on Tuesday. Had he stretched just a little bit with the speedy Bixler coming down the line, he would have made the call much easier to make.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 5.05 ERA) to the mound at Atlanta on Monday in the opener of a four-game series. The Braves will counter with right-hander Tommy Hanson (9-4, 3.59) in the 6:10 p.m. CST start from Turner Field.