HOUSTON (AP) – Greg Maddux outdueled Andy Pettitte for seven innings, and Aramis Ramirez homered and doubled twice to help the Chicago Cubs snap a six-game road losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Maddux (10-9) allowed just three hits – his fewest since May – and shut down the Astros after Houston scored 12 runs on 16 hits the previous night.

Kerry Wood pitched a perfect eighth for his sixth scoreless relief appearance, and Ryan Dempster worked the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances.

With the win, the Cubs pulled within 61/2 games of Houston in the NL wild-card race.

Ramirez was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, his last a high-arching solo homer to left in sixth. It was his 30th home run of the season.

It was just the second loss since June for Pettitte (10-9), who allowed eight hits and tied his season high with eight strikeouts.

After Chad Qualls relieved Pettitte in the eighth, the Cubs tacked on another run when Nomar Garciaparra scored from third on Corey Patterson’s bloop single.

The Astros started the night where they left off Monday. Rookie Willy Taveras dropped a triple into deep right field on Maddux’s first pitch, then scored one batter later when Craig Biggio grounded to shortstop.

But the four-time Cy Young winner quickly settled down.

Adam Everett doubled in the second, and Taveras beat out a short chopper in the third. Maddux then walked Lance Berkman two batter later, but it would be the last baserunner the 39-year-old pitcher allowed.

Houston was shut out in consecutive games before opening the series Monday night with a 12-4 victory over the Cubs.

Notes: The Cubs have homered in their last eight games. … The Astros took issue with umpire’s Larry Vanover’s strike zone throughout the game. Catcher Brad Ausmus argued a called third strike in the second inning and Morgan Ensberg did the same in the sixth. Astros Manager Phil Garner came onto the field both times.

AP-ES-08-16-05 2225EDT

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