CHICAGO -- Paul Maholm was eager to finish off one of his best pitching performances of the season. He settled instead for his first win in seven weeks, and that was plenty satisfying. Maholm allowed just four hits, pitched into the ninth inning and benefited from three homers and some good defence Friday, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 4-0 win over the Houston Astros. "I wanted it obviously. I understand the situation," Maholm said of being pulled in the ninth. "I gave up two hits, but after my last outing, Ill take what I got and go on." Maholm had given up nine hits and seven runs in just 3 1-3 innings of his previous outing against the Diamondbacks and had been 0-4 in his previous eight outings, although he pitched well enough to win in some of those games. Friday he mixed his pitches, had good control and worked well with rookie catcher Steve Clevenger, who also hit his first major league homer. "If you are doubting your pitches or whatever you are not going to be as crisp," Maholm said. "Whether I was throwing the so-called correct pitch, I was aggressive with it. And obviously Ive faced those guys a decent amount and kind of know their tendencies." Maholm (5-6), making 200th major league start, earned his first win since he tossed seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over Atlanta on May 9. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out six in his 8 1-3 innings. Brian Bixler started the Houston ninth with a base hit and Carlos Lees one-out double put runners on second and third before Carlos Marmol finished for his sixth save in eight chances. Marmol plunked Chris Snyder to load the bases with two down, but Chris Johnson lined to third to end the game. "My job is to hit the ball hard. I cant place it. I wish I could," said Johnson. Coming off a tough 7-3 loss to the Padres on Thursday night when they gave up six runs in the ninth, the Astros didnt get into Chicago until 2:20 a.m. and then to their hotel around 3:30 a.m. "How much sleep we had, no one wants to hear about that," Johnson said, crediting Maholm. "He is one of those guys who really mixes his pitches well." Jordan Schafer and Matt Downs had the only other hits for Houston against Maholm. Schafers third-inning single came on a fly ball that fell in front of left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and Downs singled in the eighth. "The guys made some great plays," Maholm said. "And three homers always helps." Luis Valbuena hit a two-out solo homer off Bud Norris (5-5) in the second. Clevenger belted a two-run shot in the fourth for his first major league homer, and Soriano connected in the sixth. All 15 of Sorianos homers have come since May 15. Clevenger will savour his first. He got the ball, as well. "To hit a home run in the big leagues, its a great feeling," he said. "But more important we got the victory and we got the shutout." Norris allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He came off the disabled list earlier in the day after being sidelines with a sprained left knee. He wanted to go longer after throwing only 87 pitches but manager Brad Mills pulled him. "Manager made his decision, so Ive got to let it be with that," Norris said. "But I felt strong. " Houston put the first two men on in the third, but Downs was thrown out at third with Norris attempting to bunt, dousing the rally. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro ended the inning by roaming behind second to flag down Bixlers grounder and throw him out. Bixler hit a long drive to centre in the sixth, but David DeJesus leaped into the ivy to pull it down. The Cubs nearly doubled off Norris, who had walked, but Castros relay throw was wild past first, allowing Norris to move to third. NOTES: SS Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup to rest following the Astros difficult 7-3 loss to the Padres on Thursday night, but he hit in the eighth. 2B Jose Altuve sat out a fifth straight game (right hamstring). ... Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, on the DL with a lat injury, played catch and hopes to throw off the mound sometime this weekend. ... Astros 1B Carlos Lee got hit in the groin area by a hard hopper off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the ninth but was able to regroup and stay in the game. cheap nfl jerseys china
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. Yet even while Ryan was saying Tuesday that the New York Jets are not actively pursuing a trade of Darrelle Revis, he sounded prepared to enter the 2013 season without his star cornerback. LONDON -- Brazil striker Nilmar grabbed a dramatic injury-time winner in Villarreals 3-2 victory at Bayer Leverkusen but English sides Liverpool and Manchester City sank to first-leg defeats in the Europa Leagues last 16 on Thursday. Nilmar scored moments after coming off the bench to put Villarreal 2-1 ahead in the 70th minute in Germany, before racing clear to slot home the winning goal four minutes into added-on time. Liverpool, a three-time winner of Europes second-tier competition, slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Braga -- one of three Portuguese teams to open the last 16 with wins. City fared even worse, losing 2-0 at Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv to leave the big-spending Premier League club with a mountain to climb in next weeks second leg at Eastlands. FC Porto won 1-0 at CSKA Moscow in a match between two former winners, and Benfica rallied to beat visiting French side Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 to make it a superb night for Portuguese teams. In the other three matches, Spartak Moscow defeated Ajax 1-0 away, Dutch champion FC Twente thrashed 2008 champion Zenit St. Petersburg 3-0, and Scottish side Rangers produced a resolute defensive display to hold PSV Eindhoven to a 0-0 draw away. All eight second legs take place on March 17. Nilmar came on for Giuseppe Rossi, who had cancelled out Michal Kadlecs 33rd-minute opener with a goal in the 42nd that took the Italy striker to a competition-high seven goals this season -- level with Porto striker Falcao. The substitute robbed Kadlec and danced through the Leverkusen defence to score his first and after Gonzalo Castro equalized two minutes later, Nilmar secured the win by running away from the Leverkusen defence to slip the ball past goalkeeper Rene Adler. Braga inflicted a first defeat in 12 European games for Liverpool this season when Osorio Alan converted a 17th-minute penalty, conceded by Sotirios Kyrgiakos for a clumsy foul oon midfielder Mossoro.dddddddddddd "The way we started, we were terrible," Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. "But I think at 1-0, we still have a chance." Braga left back Silvio struck a volley against the crossbar midway through the first half and it took the introduction of record signing Andy Carroll to spark Liverpool, which was without talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, into life. Dirk Kuyt and Kyrgiakos both fired over within a minute of each other, while Braga defender Kaka was lucky to avoid a red card for elbowing Carroll in the face late on. Veteran striker Andrey Shevchenko finished from close range in the 25th to put Kyiv ahead against City in freezing conditions in the Ukraine capital. Oleg Gusev then volleyed home in the 77th to leave sluggish City, which started with top scorer Carlos Tevez on the bench but was otherwise at full strength, on the verge of elimination. "We made mistakes for both goals," said City manager Roberto Mancini. "We cant do that in a game like this." Colombia midfielder Fredy Guarin scored Portos 70th-minute winner with a crashing effort from distance against CSKA, putting the 2003 champions and runaway Portuguese leaders in a strong position ahead of the second leg. "We had problems in the first half but we proved to be the (better) team in the second and won," Porto coach Andre Villas Boas said through a translator. "The encounter is not over. CSKA is a tough team and can score in a week." Peguy Luyindula opened the scoring for PSG at Benfica but the hosts recovered through goals by Maxi Pereira and Franco Jara either side of halftime to take a slim lead to France. Alexs second-half strike secured Spartak a smash-and-grab win at Amsterdam ArenA and Luuk de Jongs double helped Twente to an easy victory over Zenit. Denny Landzaat scored Twentes other goal. ' ' '