Diamondbacks 6, Astros 4
Cormier won the first game of his brief career, and Shea Hillenbrand hit a two-run homer Thursday to lead the Diamondbacks to a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros—only their second win since the All-Star break.
“I think I’m getting more relaxed with each start,” Cormier said. “I felt more in control every inning even when I got in tough situations. Knowing I’m going to be here, even when I give up 10 runs, I still know I have a chance to come back five days later.”
Cormier (1-2), making his third start in the big leagues, lasted six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. He was much better against the Astros than he was in his previous two outings—he entered with a 14.73 ERA after starts against Tampa Bay and Colorado.
A confidence-building chat with manager Al Pedrique earlier this week eased Cormier’s worries about being sent back to the minors.
“With young players, anytime you give them some confidence, it should help them,” Pedrique said. “We’re hoping he can go out and relax and show us what he can do.”
The 23-year-old right-hander even tallied his first career hit with a single in the sixth, almost getting thrown out at first when he halfheartedly started running toward the base.
“Yeah, I probably should have been thrown out,” Cormier said sheepishly.
Hillenbrand’s shot just over the left-field fence in the fifth gave the Diamondbacks a 6-1 lead, enough of a cushion to seal Arizona’s second win in 18 games. The Diamondbacks, who snapped a club-record 14-game losing streak against Houston on Monday, hadn’t split a series since June 28-July 1 against San Diego.
Arizona even managed to win without its best hitter, right fielder Danny Bautista, who sat out with a sore left hamstring. Bautista, who’s batting .308, was replaced in the lineup by Quinton McCracken.
Before the game, Luis Gonzalez announced that he’ll have season-ending ligament replacement surgery Monday, but expects to return to the Diamondbacks by next spring. The left fielder has played all season with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, feeling pain on every throw to the infield. The ligament connects bones in the upper and lower arm.
Team orthopedists will perform Tommy John surgery in Phoenix on an off-day for the team.
The win over his former team was especially sweet for Gonzalez, who’ll play in the three-game series at Colorado this weekend before having the operation.
“It’s especially nice because we’re not in the race, so we can come in and play spoiler,” said Gonzalez, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI. “We were losing 14 in a row and other teams have to take advantage of that.”
Houston (51-51) dropped back to .500, and even worse, lost two games at home to the league’s worst team (33-71). The Astros are 14 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis and only a half-game ahead of Cincinnati for third place.
The crowd of 39,758 booed the Astros throughout, particularly struggling starter Tim Redding (4-6).
Redding, briefly moved into a relief role this month, gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He’s 1-4 in his last six starts.
“It’s a letdown,” Redding said. “No way should we have lost two games.”
Redding got off a rough start, allowing run-scoring singles by Gonzalez, Hillenbrand and Alex Cintron in the first. He retired 12 of the next 13, but started to falter after Chad Tracy’s double in the fifth.
Tracy scored on Adam Everett’s throwing error on Gonzalez’s infield hit, and Hillenbrand followed with a homer.
The Astros rallied briefly in the bottom of the fifth, as Carlos Beltran singled in Biggio and Adam Everett scored after Lance Berkman grounded into a double play. But Jeff Kent flied out to right to end the inning.
“We have to forget about it and we have to move on,” Beltran said. “Today, we just fell behind early in the ballgame and we weren’t able to get back into it.”
Biggio hit the 544th double of his career in the first, moving him past Tony Gwynn for 19th all-time in the majors. He doubled again in the fifth. Biggio also passed Reggie Jackson for 70th on the career hits list, getting his 2,586th.