LaHair homers in another impressive show for Cubs

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CHICAGO (AP) - Even though the Chicago Cubs aren’t in a pennant race, Bryan LaHair and Rodrigo Lopez have plenty to play for this year.

LaHair homered and Lopez pitched six strong innings as the Cubs beat the Houston Astros 2-1 on Saturday.

The win marked the Cubs‘ 4,000th victory since moving into Wrigley Field in 1915. Only the Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium and Red Sox at Fenway Park have won more games in one ballpark than the Cubs have taken at their ivy-covered home.

It also sent the Astros to their 100th loss for the first time in franchise history.

LaHair broke a 1-all tie with a solo shot to center field leading off the fourth inning. It was the 28-year-old’s second homer since being promoted on Sept. 2.

“When he squares it up, it’s pretty impressive,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “Big, strong kid. We like what we’ve seen so far, that’s for sure.”

LaHair, picked as the 2011 Pacific Coast League Player of the Year, has hit safely in 10 of 11 games since being called up and has a .433 average and .541 on-base percentage.

He drew two walks in addition to the home run.

“Just the same as anything else, you earn at-bats and keep putting good at-bats together, and all of a sudden you find yourself in there,” said LaHair, who led all minor leaguers with 38 homers at Triple-A Iowa. “It’s part of my plan. I’m trying to get good pitches to hit and hit them hard like I’ve been doing all year.”

Lopez (6-6) tossed six innings for just the second time in his last 10 starts. He didn’t allow an earned run and held the Astros to four hits in six innings while striking out seven.

“We really needed six out of Rodrigo, that was huge,” Quade said. “He’s had a handful of outings where he’s been able to do that, but we really need it from him today.”

Lopez matched his season high with five strikeouts in just three innings. He reached his season high in the fourth and finished his most whiffs since July 22, 2010.

“It’s important for me to go home and make a case for getting a job next year,” the 35-year-old Lopez said. “I’m trying to do a job this year and trying to find a spot somewhere. Free agency, they just look at your numbers.”

The Astros, who began play in 1962 as the Colt .45s, dropped to 51-100. Minnesota has the second-most losses in the majors this season with 91.

Colorado and the Angels are the only remaining franchises that have never lost 100 games in a season.

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