Pat Sullivan, Associated Press
Astros' Carlos Lee sits in the dirt after dodging a pitch in the fourth inning against the Cubs.

HOUSTON — Geovany Soto didn't get the automatic home run he deserved. Cubs manager Lou Piniella thinks he probably likes it that way.

Soto was credited with an inside-the-park three-run homer in the fourth inning despite replays showing that it should have been an automatic home run in Chicago's 7-2 win over Houston on Monday night.

The ball bounced just to the right of the yellow line on the wall in left-center field.

"It was a home run, but I think he'd probably rather have the inside-the-park home run anyway," Piniella said.

Astros center fielder Michael Bourn scooped it up and threw it home, but Soto scored easily before the throw got there.

"Never in my whole life had I had an inside-the-park home run," Soto said. "I didn't think it was out. It's so big that left-center area I didn't think I hit it over it. I thought double, maybe triple if they misplayed it."

Aramis Ramirez singled and Kosuke Fukudome walked before the hit. Ramirez added an indisputable two-run homer to the back row of the stands in the left field Crawford Boxes in the ninth inning.

Third base umpire Ed Rapuano defended his call.

"The ball hit the yellow line that designates home run, no home run," he said.

When asked if there was any question in his mind when he made the call, he said: "No. I called what I saw."

It was the second straight night that major league umpires botched a home run call. New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado was robbed of a three-run homer Sunday night. Delgado's ball was originally ruled a home run but the call was reversed, turning it into a long foul ball. The replay of that play showed it should have been a home run.

Delgado ended up with an RBI single.

Soto's was the first inside-the-park home run for a catcher since Joe Mauer of the Twins hit one against the Angels on July 21 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last National League catcher to achieve the feat was Kelly Stinnett for Arizona on Aug. 29, 2005.

It's been almost 49 years since a Cubs catcher hit an inside-the-park homer, dating back to Cal Neeman's hit on June 17, 1959 against Pittsburgh's Harvey Haddix.

It's the first one for the Cubs since Derrek Lee hit one on Aug. 26 and the third in Minute Maid Park history.

The win is Chicago's ninth in the last 11 and puts the Cubs at 11 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2004 season at 16 over.

NATIONALS 4, PHILLIES 0: At Washington, Ryan Zimmerman saved a run or two with a quick stab to stop a double down the left-field line in the first inning, charged a two-hopper barehanded to throw out the swift Shane Victorino in the fifth, then made a tough catch look routine when pinch hitter Greg Dobbs hit a foul pop-up in the seventh. With the help of his third baseman's flawless defense, Tim Redding (6-3) threw 6 1-3 scoreless innings and the Nationals opened a seven-game homestand with a win over the Phillies.

ROCKIES 4, GIANTS 3: At Denver, Clint Barmes homered and Yorvit Torrealba added a go-ahead two-run double in the sixth, leading the Rockies to a win over slumping San Francisco. The Giants have now lost a season-high six straight games. Jason Grilli (1-0) got two outs in the sixth to earn his first win as a member of the Rockies. Brian Fuentes pitched around an opening single in the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.

Cardinals 8, Padres 2: At San Diego, Albert Pujols hit two mighty home runs, and Cesar Izturis and Ryan Ludwick also went yard in leading the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the third straight win for the Cardinals, who got to face Wil Ledezma instead of Padres ace Jake Peavy, who could be heading for the disabled list due to soreness in his pitching elbow. The four homers were the most in a game this year for the Cardinals, who tied their season high with 16 hits.

American League

TWINS 7, RANGERS 6 (12): At Minneapolis, Howie Clark's single over the head of Josh Hamilton in center field lifted Minnesota over Texas in a game that saw reliever Bobby Korecky become the first Twins pitcher to get a hit in an American League game. Korecky (1-0) also picked up his first career victory by getting two outs in the top of the 11th with the bases loaded and then pitching a perfect 12th.