Aramis Ramirez shows no signs of cooling off just as Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up.Ramirez and Soriano both hit fifth-inning homers and the Cubs beat the Houston Astros 4-2 on Friday.Ramirez’s 18th homer, a two-run shot, capped a four-run rally in the inning. He leads the majors with 13 homers since June 24.Soriano started the inning with his 15th of the season — first since June 19.Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (7-5) won for just the second time since May 26 and improved to 16-8 against Houston, the most wins against the Astros by an active pitcher.Zambrano went six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs. He struck out three and walked one. It was Zambrano’s first win since he returned from a DL stint caused by lower back tightness.The Cubs snapped Houston’s five-game winning streak at Wrigley Field, beating the Astros at home for the first time in four games this season.Houston’s Bud Norris (5-7) took the loss in his first career start at Wrigley Field. He gave up nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and striking out five.Michael Bourn had three hits and two stolen bases.Five Cubs relievers combined to throw three scoreless innings.Sean Marshall pitched a perfect ninth for his third save. Carlos Marmol, the Cubs’ closer for most of the season, struck out the only two batters he faced in the eighth inning. After his sharp outing, Marmol is now slated to close again.Marmol said he is ready to return to ninth-inning duty.The Astros failed to capitalize on some early opportunities and stranded eight runners.The Astros loaded the bases with nobody out in the second on Carlos Lee’s walk and back-to-back singles by Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson.Zambrano fell behind Clint Barmes 3-0, but induced a double-play grounder, scoring Lee to make it 1-0. Zambrano escaped further damage by getting Humberto Quintero to ground out.The Astros again loaded the bases with no outs in the third. Norris and Bourn singled and Zambrano hit Jose Altuve in the shoulder with a pitch.Zambrano fell behind Hunter Pence 3-0, but Pence lined sharply to shallow left. Lee flied out, leaving the bases loaded for Wallace, who was also retired on a fly ball.The Cubs also struggled early. Soriano led off the third with a double into the left-field corner. With one out, he was caught in a rundown on a comebacker hit by Zambrano. They also squandered Ramirez’s leadoff double in the fourth. Houston went ahead 2-0 in the fourth when Bourn singled home Barmes.Soriano cut it to 2-1 with a leadoff homer in the fourth. The Cubs tied it when Darwin Barney singled, went to second on Zambrano’s bunt hit, stole third and scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly.Ramirez then hit a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers, putting the Cubs up 4-2. The inning was kept alive by Zambrano’s drag bunt, which skipped past Norris toward second baseman Altuve.A crowd of 39,855 showed up at Wrigley Field for the matchup between the teams with Baseball’s worst records.
NOTES—Quade will wait to for this weekend series to unfold before naming a starting pitcher for Tuesday at Milwaukee. Rodrigo Lopez, who has three straight quality starts, is the likely choice….Ramirez hit his 231st homer with the Cubs, tying Gabby Hartnett for sixth on the club’s career list….The Cubs snapped a nine-game streak with at least one error, their longest since June 4-13, 1987. The Cubs have 87 errors, 15 more than the Astros, who have the second-most in the NL.