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Lilly takes no-hitter into seventh inning as Cubs win

Monday, September 15, 2008

By COLIN FLY

AP Sports Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Ted Lilly came close to following Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter with one of his own.

Lilly pitched no-hit ball until Mark Loretta's seventh-inning single, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Astros 6-1 Monday to sweep a two-game series moved from Houston by Hurricane Ike.

With Milwaukee abuzz over the Brewers' decision to fire manager Ned Yost, the Cubs finished off the two-game stand at Miller Park, filled with Cubs fans who made the 90-mile trek from Chicago. The Cubs improved to 6-0 in Milwaukee this season.

Hard-charging Houston had won 14 of 15 coming into the series, but the Cubs left the Astros 2 1/2 games back of Milwaukee and Philadelphia, which share the NL wild-card lead.

On Sunday, Zambrano pitched the Cubs' first no-hitter since Milt Pappas in 1972, leading Chicago to a 5-0 win. And until the seventh, Lilly appeared headed to a repeat.

Aramis Ramirez's first-inning sacrifice fly and Jim Edmonds' homer off Brian Moehler (11-7) in the fifth built a 2-0 lead, and Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto hit two-run homers in the sixth.

Lilly (15-9) faced the minimum through six innings, allowing only a leadoff walk in the second to Lance Berkman, who was caught leaning off first and thrown out at second.

Reggie Abercrombie's hard grounder leading off the seventh was booted by third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was charged with an error by official scorer Tim O'Driscoll. Loretta followed with a clean single to right.

Lilly was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 15,158. He allowed the one hit in seven innings, struck out nine and walked one.

Pinch-hitter David Newhan drove in Houston's run with a sacrifice fly off Carlos Marmol in the eighth. Moeller allowed fuve runs and six hits in five innings.

Houston didn't take batting practice before the game, which manager Cecil Cooper said was typical of afternoon starts, but the wear of the travel and aftermath of the hurricane was evident in the clubhouse.

Jose Valverde slept soundly on a couch before the game with highlights of Zambrano's historic performance Sunday night flickering on a nearby television screen.

Notes:

No teammates have thrown back-to-back no hitters on consecutive days, but no-hitters in a consecutive series happened Sept. 17-18, 1968, when Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals 1-0. The next day, Cardinals pitcher Ray Washburn completed the feat against the Giants in a 2-0 victory. ... Edmonds made a diving catch on pinch-hitter Brad Ausmus's short liner in the sixth. Ausmus entered after Humberto Quintero fouled an 0-2 pitch off a leg and left the game.



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