One of the finest pitching moments of 2008 occurred at Miller Park in a make-up game between, the Cubs and Houston Astros. Because of the damage done to the Houston area by Hurricane Ike, MLB decided to have the Cubs and Astros make up 2 games at a “neutral” site so as to not have too many games to make up at the end of the season if necessary to determine playoff teams. On Sunday, September 14th, Carlos Zambrano pitched the Cubs 1st no-hitter in 36 years (Milt Pappas no-hit the San Diego Padres on September 2, 1972). All the more impressive was the fact that it was his first start coming off of 12 days rest due to a sore right shoulder strain. Zambrano needed 110 pitches to to record his 1st shutout in 4 years. Zambrano walked one and hit one batter en route to the historic victory. Zambrano also struck out 10 Astros batters. This was baseball’s first “neutral” site no-hitter. To make matters easier for Zambrano, the Cubs jumped on Astros’ starter Randy Wolf right off the bat with a lead-off home run by Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs tacked on 4 runs in the 3rd inning on a 2-RBI double by Derrek Lee, an RBI-single by Aramis Ramirez and an RBI-double by Geovany Soto.
Ironically, the next day, Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly no-hit the Astros through 6 innings en route to a 6-1 victory. Lilly pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 9 Astros batters. After the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning on an Aramis Ramirez sacrifice fly, the Cubs put the game out f reach with a solo home run by Jim Edmonds in the 5th inning and two 2-run home runs by Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto in the 6th inning.
After the 2-game sweep by the Cubs over the Astros, many national media critics and Astros players and fans were critical of MLB’s decision to move the games to Milwaukee’s Miller Park, an easy drive for many Cubs fans.