Injuries to two regulars, along with a left-handed opponent on the mound, had the Chicago Cubs trying an interesting lineup Wednesday.
Joe Mather was in the leadoff spot for the third time in the past four days, Starlin Castro marked his return to the No. 3 spot in the order and catcher Anthony Recker got a chance to play first base.
The game will mark the final National League clash between the Cubs and Astros in Houston as National League Central foes. The Astros will move to the American League in 2013.
Center fielder Brett Jackson was out for the fifth consecutive game with a sore right knee that he suffered when crashing into the fence Friday night at Pittsburgh. First baseman Anthony Rizzo was also out with a sore shoulder and back after a collision at first base Tuesday.
Mather has taken advantage of his recent starting chances. He had five hits in his last two starts, Sunday at Pittsburgh and Monday at Houston.
Castro started the season in the No. 3 spot but eventually moved to the second hole and lately to the No. 5 spot. In the 54 games Castro was in the No. 3 spot, the Cubs were 17-37 this season.
Recker, who was traded from the A’s to the Cubs on Aug. 27, has made just one previous start with the Cubs this season when he was the catcher Sunday at Pittsburgh. He hit a home run to center field, the first of his career. Recker has played some first base in the minor leagues but has never played there in 19 previous big-league games.
The Cubs’ complete lineup Wednesday against Astros left-hander Fernando Abad:
Darwin Barney, 2B
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Welington Castillo, C
Josh Vitters, 3B
Dave Sappelt, RF
Travis Wood, P