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Cubs' momentum is stranded in Houston

Aramis Ramirz hit his 23rd home run of the season in the second, but the Cubs couldn't capitalize. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

HOUSTON -- When you can't score with men on first and third and nobody out on two occasions, or bases loaded and no one out, you're asking for a loss.

And after leaving 12 men on base Wednesday, the Cubs got what they were asking for with a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros.

The Cubs were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position as one of the team's major weaknesses resurfaced.

"Missed opportunities all day long," manager Mike Quade said. "It's just about what the game boiled down to. You just can't have that many opportunities go by the board and not take advantage. You just can't expect to win very often.'

Right-hander Casey Coleman, pitching in place of deposed starter Carlos Zambrano, came up short allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings. Coleman left a mess for his bullpen with the bases loaded in the fourth.

"The gameplan was to throw strikes, and for the most part I did that," Coleman said. " You just tip your hat when the balls find holes like that."

The Cubs have done way too much hat-tipping over the last two games. What should have been another successful road trip with a 5-1 record turned into a 3-3 trip with two bad losses. Although run production had been up over the Cubs' recent stretch of 11 wins in 14 games, it was missing over the last two days.

"I thought we got over the hump a little bit over the last few weeks," Quade said. "I thought we had gotten a lot better in those situations. Unfortunately we weren't today."

Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto left five men on base, including four in scoring position.

"When you have guys on base, sometimes guys try to do a little too much," Darwin Barney said. "[Bud] Norris did a good job of bearing down when he had to, but when you have that many opportunities it's it's tough to let your pitching staff down."

Aramis Ramirz hit his 23rd in the second to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Soto's 13th gave them a 3-2 lead in the third.