Cubs shut out by Astros' Wolf

Randy Wolf pitched a six-hitter for his eighth career shutout and Ty Wigginton homered Thursday night as the Houston Astros won their eighth straight with a 4-0 victory over the slumping Cubs, who've lost a season-high five in a row.

The surging Astros completed a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field behind the pitching of Wolf and some good defense. Wigginton, an infielder most of his career, also made a great throw from left field to cut down a potential Chicago run in the fifth inning.

It is Houston's second eight-game winning streak in less than a month, matching an earlier one from Aug. 7-14.

The Cubs are stuck in their first five-game skid since dropping six in a row from May 27-June 2 last season. The NL Central leaders have 22 games left this season, 16 away from Wrigley Field.

Despite another loss, the Cubs maintained their 4{ game lead over Milwaukee after the Brewers were beaten 9-2 by the Mets as New York completed a three-game sweep at Miller Park.

Wolf (9-11) walked two and struck out eight, including Reed Johnson to end the fourth when they Cubs had two on. It was the 31-year-old left-hander's first shutout and complete game since April 24, 2004, when he beat the Montreal Expos 7-0 while pitching for the Phillies.

Wigginton, who homered 12 times in August, hit his 22nd of the season in the fifth, a two-run, two-out shot off Ryan Dempster (15-6) to give the Astros a 3-0 lead.

The Cubs threatened in the bottom of the inning when Ronny Cedeno walked and went to second on a sacrifice.

When Alfonso Soriano singled sharply to left, Wigginton made a strong on-target throw to catcher Humberto Quintero, who reached back and nicked the back of a sliding Cedeno's jersey for the out. Astros center fielder Michael Bourn then made a nice catch of Ryan Theriot's long drive to center to end the inning.

The Astros made it 4-0 in the ninth when David Newhan and Bourn singled to put runners at the corners with two outs. Cubs' reliever Jeff Samardzija picked Bourn off first but when he was caught in a rundown, Newhan raced home. Cubs shortstop Theriot's throw to the plate was not handled by catcher Geovany Soto. Newhan was credited with a steal of home on the play and Theriot an error when Bourn made second.

Houston scored in the second with two outs on Hunter Pence's double, a walk and RBI single by Quintero.

Dempster went seven innings, giving up eight hits and the three runs.

Notes: Houston's victory was its 74th, surpassing last season's total when the Astros finished 73-89. ... Dempster laid down two more sacrifice bunts and leads the majors with 18. He is now 12-3 at Wrigley Field. ... Wolf threw 128 pitches.