Brandon Backe has helped the struggling Astros not just on the mound, but at the plate.
Backe helped the struggling Astros snap a seven-game losing streak in a 5-1 road win over the Cubs on Wednesday. He threw seven strong innings, but also chipped in offensively with a single, his first major league stolen base, a sacrifice and a run scored.
The 27-year-old right-hander, who gave up one run and seven hits, is batting .263 (5-for-19) with a triple, two RBIs and four runs scored in 10 games this season.
“I used to be a position player and that’s kind of my mentality,” said Backe, a converted outfielder. “I love all aspects of the game and I want to do well in all of them.”
Backe posted his first win on the road, but is undefeated in four starts at home, going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA, all victories for the Astros. Houston, which has league lows in batting average (.239) and runs scored (178), has outscored its opponents 25-11 in those outings while their average 5.9 runs in support of Backe overall this season is tops on the staff.
The Astros have lost two of their last five since their seven-game skid, including their league-leading ninth shutout on Monday, 9-0 by the Reds.
“Nobody likes to be shut out nine times this early in the season,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “The guys are working on it. It’s not from a lack of effort.”
Joe Randa drove in three runs for Cincinnati, which has won six of its last eight games.
LaRue is hitting .388 (14-for-36) during a season-high nine-game hitting streak.