Astros 4, Expos 0

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HOUSTON (AP)—Adam Everett will be sidelined for four weeks, maybe longer.

The Houston Astros weren’t thinking much about their 4-0 win over the Montreal Expos on Friday night, instead dwelling on the injury to their shortstop, who broke a bone in his left wrist.

“It’s a downer for all the pitchers,” said Roy Oswalt, who pitched a five-hitter. “He’s the best defensive player we have. He probably saved five or six runs a week for us.”

Everett was hit by a pitch from Claudio Vargas in the fourth inning and broke the ulna bone. Everett, batting .272 with eight homers and 31 RBIs, was taken to a hospital for X-rays.

“At first I didn’t think it was too bad,” Everett said. “But when they came out and started feeling it, I realized it was pretty serious. Then I knew it was probably broken. I’m really bummed about it. If there’s anything I can do to get back before the season is over, I will.”

Houston said he will be sidelined for a minimum of four weeks, perhaps longer.

“This is really a huge blow for us,” general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. “I can’t think of too many guys we could ill afford to lose more than Everett. He has done a tremendous job for us defensively, and he has really come along nicely on offense. Surgery will depend on how badly the fracture is displaced, and we won’t know that until the swelling goes down in a couple of days.”

Hunsicker said the team will call up utilityman Eric Bruntlett from Triple-A New Orleans.

“There’s no question about it, that’s our single greatest loss this year,” Jeff Bagwell said. “He’s probably a little underappreciated by most people but not by his teammates. He’s not as flashy as some shortstops, but he does a tremendous job.”

Oswalt (12-8) struck out eight and walked one in his second shutout of the season, the third of his career. Oswalt, who threw 133 pitches, has won four straight decisions overall and improved to 9-0 against Montreal in 13 career starts.

Oswalt has been working with pitching coach Jim Hickey on his changeup.

“I’ve been trying to get it over more,” Oswalt said. “I probably threw it 25 or 30 times tonight, and I usually only throw it five or six times. It’s a pitch that can get you deep into games.”

It impressed the Expos, who were shut out for the 15th time this season—no other team has been blanked more than nine times.

“His fast ball is 96, 97 and his curveball is like 68, 70,” Brian Schnieder said. “And then he’s obviously got a good changeup. When he’s throwing all three for strikes, that’s the kind of pitcher he can be. He’s tough. You just have to battle.”

Nick Johnson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

“He’s a very good pitcher,” Johnson said. “He had everything. He throws extremely hard, changeup, curveball. He kept us off balance. We didn’t get a lot going.”

Expos starter Rocky Biddle (3-6) was hit on the right ankle by a line drive off the bat of Lance Berkman in the third inning, with the ball bouncing all the way back across the first-base line. Biddle left the game with a bruised ankle, and Montreal said he was day to day.

“It’s sore,” Biddle said. “It’s a pretty good bruise. It’s swollen. It should be all right with some treatment. If it would have hit me square on, it probably would have shattered my ankle. It hit the bottom portion of the ankle. I don’t know how long it will take. But I don’t see it taking too long.”

Bagwell hit a solo homer in the second inning, tying Frank Thomas for 30th on the career list at 436. After Biddle left, Vargas relieved and loaded the bases with a walk to Carlos Beltran, then forced in a run with a walk to Bagwell.

Jeff Kent hit a two-run single in the seventh against Sun Woo Kim.

Notes

Bagwell and Thomas are tied for the most home runs among active players who spent their entire careers with the same team. … Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch for the 13th time this season, raising his career total to 255, the most in the NL. … The four hit by pitches was the most the Astros have had in a game this season and the most the Expos have hit in a game this season.

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