HOUSTON (AP) – Morgan Ensberg hit a long home run and finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs, and Chris Burke, Adam Everett and Humberto Quintero also homered in the recently punchless Houston Astros’ 12-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Ensberg homered in the seventh inning, a solo shot that landed on the train track well above the left-field stands. He helped the Astros follow consecutive shutouts with their second-highest scoring game of the season.

Burke hit a three-run homer in the third inning, and Everett had a solo homer and Quintero hit a two-run shot in a six-run fifth. Astros rookie Willy Taveras had his fourth four-hit game, finishing 4-for-6 with two runs.

Wandy Rodriguez (8-5) again benefited from generous run support. The Astros have scored 87 runs in his 15 starts – about six runs in each outing – for the rookie, who allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings for his second straight victory.

In contrast, Astros ace Roger Clemens – who received no run support in a two-hit, eight-inning gem Saturday – has gotten 88 runs from his offense in 24 starts.

Matt Murton hit his first career homer and Todd Walker hit his eighth for the Cubs, who began a six-game road swing with their sixth consecutive road loss. Chicago has lost 10 of its last 13 to fall 71/2 games behind the Astros in the NL wild-card race.

Chicago’s Glendon Rusch (5-5) lasted only 3 2-3 innings in his first start since June 23. He allowed five runs on 10 hits.

Burke and Everett each broke out of long slumps with their home runs. They had a combined eight hits in their last 80 at-bats before going deep for the Astros, who hit four home runs for the third time this season.

Quintero was homerless and batting .167 before connecting in the fifth. The Astros sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.

Corey Patterson scored the Cubs’ final run in the fourth when he tripled to center, and went home when Craig Biggio’s relay throw skipped and hit Patterson in the helmet as he was sliding into third base. The ball rolled toward the Cubs’ dugout, allowing Patterson to score easily.

Notes: Taveras had his 42nd multihit game of the season. He was a major league-leading 59 infield hits. … The Cubs have homered in seven straight games. … The Astros avoided losing three straight at home for the first time this season.

AP-ES-08-15-05 2258EDT


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