Visiting Astros roll Rockies to start series
DENVER – Lance Berkman homered and drove in three runs, Wandy Rodriguez was strong into the seventh inning, and the Houston Astros beat Jamey Wright for the 12th straight time in an 11-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.Light-hitting Raul Chavez hit his first homer in two years – the third of his career – and drove in two runs. Jason Lane added a three-run shot for the normally punchless Astros, who had a season-high 18 hits to win for the eighth time in 11 games. Every starter, including Rodriguez, had a hit by the fourth inning in Houston’s seventh straight victory over Colorado.Most of the rare production came against Wright (4-8).The right-hander allowed eight runs and a team record-tying 15 hits in seven innings, becoming the first pitcher to lose his first 12 decisions against one team since Don Sutton lost 13 straight against the Chicago Cubs from 1966-69.
Rodriguez (3-3) didn’t have many problems in his first trip to Coors Field.The rookie left-hander gave up an RBI single to Danny Ardoin in the second inning and not much else until Todd Helton’s RBI double in the seventh cut Houston’s lead to 8-2. Rodriguez was done after that, and Russ Springer stranded runners at second and third by striking out Preston Wilson and Brad Hawpe.Rodriguez allowed eight hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings, just the third time in seven starts he’s allowed less than four earned runs.Colorado at least made it interesting, scoring three runs with two outs in the eighth.
Luis Gonzalez knocked in one with a single off Chad Harville, then two more came in when third baseman Morgan Ensberg dropped Helton’s bases-loaded popup for an error. Harville walked pinch-hitter Cory Sullivan to load the bases, but Dan Wheeler struck out Hawpe to end the inning.Wright entered with a 12 1-3 innings scoreless streak at Coors Field. The Astros took care of that in three pitches.Willy Taveras hit Wright’s first pitch down the line in right for a double and Craig Biggio followed with an RBI double down the opposite line. Berkman made it 2-0 two pitches later with a run-scoring single just over third base.A two-out error by Rockies shortstop Desi Relaford led to a two-run single by Adam Everett in the third, then Chavez led off the fourth with a homer – the first off a Rockies starter at Coors Field in 59 innings. Berkman followed with a two-run shot, his sixth, to put the Astros up 7-1.
Wright matched his career high of 12 hits allowed by the fourth inning, but manager Clint Hurdle kept sending him out there. He gave up three more hits and a run in the seventh on Chavez’s sacrifice fly before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half.Lane put the Astros up 11-2 in the eighth with his 12th homer, a three-run shot off Matt Anderson.Notes: Taveras leads the majors with 31 infield hits after beating out a grounder to second in the third inning. … Chavez’s last homer was April 15, 2003, against San Francisco. … Colorado’s Jason Jennings also allowed 15 hits on July 20, 2004, against San Diego.
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