CHICAGO -- The knockout blow likely came only a few pitches before, when David DeJesus slugged his second homer -- a two-run shot -- to give the Cubs a five-run lead in the fourth inning. The ball that Josh Vitters drilled into Bud Norris' left foot moments later officially ended his day.
Norris' frustrating season continued Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, when he allowed six runs -- including a season-high-tying three home runs -- and left with a bruised left foot after 3 1/3 innings while suffering his ninth consecutive loss in a 7-2 setback to the Cubs.
After winning his first four starts in May -- during which he posted a 0.35 ERA and was in running for National League Pitcher of the Month honors -- Norris has gone 0-9 with a 6.98 ERA in his last 13 outings, three of which were cut short by injuries.
"It's been frustrating," Norris said. "I've got a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones. Being consistent is something you're trying to get and figure out. I think I did a good job with that last year, and unfortunately there's been a couple of really bad starts this year, and I have to keep plugging away."
Astros manager Brad Mills said Norris struggled to get the ball down.
"We were looking for a good outing from him today," he said. "I don't know if something else was kind of tweaking him or whatever. It just wasn't the Bud that we've seen. We're used to seeing a guy that really battles and keeps us in ballgames. The ball was elevated and they were able to get a couple of balls up in the air."
Norris had the foot wrapped and was walking with a noticeable limp around the cramped clubhouse after the game. The ball struck him as he stuck out his foot to deflect Vitters' grounder, which went for an infield hit.
"It really squared up my foot pretty good," he said. "I just had a ringing sensation in my foot, just tried to get it to calm down, and I knew with my landing foot it wasn't going to be pretty. I'm glad I just came out, because I didn't want to hurt it any worse than it was."
Norris was asked about his level of concern regarding the injury.
"I really have to see how the swelling goes in the next couple of days to make an honest opinion," he said. "I have to keep it elevated and iced, and it's wrapped right now and we'll go from there."
The Cubs had roughed up Norris pretty good prior to the ball hitting him in the foot, which only added injury to his frustration.
David DeJesus went 4-for-4 with two homers and a walk, taking Norris deep in the third inning before his two-run shot in the fourth put Chicago ahead, 6-1. Starlin Castro homered off Norris in the third inning. Two of the long balls came immediately after walks.
"I just felt like it was inconsistent, and it felt like all the mistakes I made got punished, and it's going to happen," Norris said. "It's just frustrating, because you're trying to make good pitches, and sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. A couple of them got out of the park."
One day after bashing out 14 hits, the Astros scuffled on offense against Justin Germano, who held Houston to five hits and two runs while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings. For the game, the Astros managed six singles and a Scott Moore homer -- his second in as many games.
"I just try to keep the ball down," Germano said. "I wasn't aware of it until that ball went out. I thought [Moore's hit] was a fly ball off the bat, and I turned around and saw [left fielder Alfonso Soriano] sprinting to the wall. I knew it was going to be trouble then. I tried to be aggressive and keep the ball down in the zone and try to get them to hit the ball."
The Astros never had more than one runner on base in an inning until the seventh, when they loaded the bases with one out and pushed a run home on a grounder that began a play in which the Cubs wound up getting two outs.
"He had good stuff," catcher Jason Castro said of Germano. "He was mixing speeds really well. He's a crafty righty and you have to give credit to him. He did a great job hitting his spots and keeping guys off-balance and playing the front-to-back game. You've got to give credit to him."