HOUSTON -- Both starting pitchers Tuesday night had one bad inning. Fortunately for the Astros, Chris Sampson's bump in the road was less costly than Ryan Dempster's, and as a result, Houston prevailed, 4-2.
Sampson yielded a two-run homer to Aramis Ramirez in the fourth frame, but Hunter Pence returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, and with more runners on base. Pence knocked his second career grand slam, which turned out to be the difference-maker in this win before 33,339 fans -- most of whom were cheering for the Astros -- at Minute Maid Park.
Miguel Tejada set up the Astros' big inning with a leadoff double. Lance Berkman walked, and Tejada advanced to third on a fly ball from Carlos Lee. Berkman moved to second on Jim Edmonds' throwing error. And after Geoff Blum walked to load the bases, Pence sent a 2-0 fastball into the right-field stands, putting the Astros ahead by two.
Chris Sampson was rewarded for a solid effort over 6 2/3 frames with his third win of the season. After Ramirez's home run, he retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced and was given multiple opportunities by his skipper to work out of trouble in the seventh.
Sampson yielded a leadoff hit to Geovany Soto to start that frame, but after a brief meeting with Cecil Cooper, Sampson stayed in to face Edmonds. The former Astros killer grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but after Mark DeRosa singled to left and Micah Hoffpauir drew a pinch-hit walk, Cooper lifted Sampson for Doug Brocail. The veteran righty struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the Cubs' threat.