Expos 8, Astros 3

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HOUSTON (AP)—Jon Rauch benefited from some good advice from his new manager.

“I told him after the first inning that if he got his breaking ball down in the strike zone, he would be effective,” Montreal’s Frank Robinson said. “And he did. He gave us six solid innings.”

Rauch (1-0) allowed three runs and seven hits in his first start with the Expos, and Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to lead Montreal to an 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Rauch, acquired with right-hander Gary Majewski from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Carl Everett on July 18 and then sent to Triple-A Edmonton, struck out four and walked one to help the Expos snap a three-game losing streak.

“They were setting on my fastball early. Then, I got in a groove and was able to keep the ball down and throw my breaking ball for strikes,” Rauch said. “I felt like something just clicked and I started making my pitches.”

Rauch was 1-1 with the White Sox before being traded.

“I’m thrilled to get a second chance by someone who wanted me,” he said. “It was a welcomed change. I want to prove that I deserve to be here and I want to show what I’m capable of.”

Andy Pettitte got a no-decision in his first start for the Astros since July 26, when he left with a sore left elbow. He missed one start and decided to pitch despite continued elbow pain. Pettitte gave up two runs, both earned, on six hits in five innings.

“I felt good, all things considered. I know my velocity was down a little, but that’s what I’m going to have to deal with,” Pettitte said. “I’m going to have to be sharper with my command than I was tonight.”

Pettitte said he wanted to keep pitching past the fifth inning.

“I felt good enough,” he said. “I felt I was getting them out. I’d rather me be in there than anyone else. I need to try and get deeper into games.”

Montreal scored four times in the seventh inning to bounce back from a 3-2 deficit.

David Weathers, in relief of Pettitte, walked pinch-hitter Ron Calloway and Brad Wilkerson to start the inning. Henry Mateo, running for Calloway, scored when Gonzalez singled and Chad Harville, in relief of Weathers, committed a throwing error on the play.

Jose Vidro then singled in Wilkerson and Gonzalez, and scored on a groundout by Nick Johnson.

Weathers (6-6) allowed two runs and one hit in one inning in the loss.

Gonzalez hit a two-run homer, his fourth this season, in the eighth to make it 8-3.

“It was just a ball that I was able to get good wood on,” Gonzalez said. “It came at an important time in the game because it gave us a cushion so our pitchers could be more aggressive.”

Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first after Lance Berkman singled, Jeff Bagwell walked and Mike Lamb hit a two-run triple.

Montreal cut it to 2-1 in the third when Endy Chavez singled, moved to second on a single by Wilkerson, stole third and scored when Gonzalez grounded out.

Carlos Beltran singled, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch by Rauch to give Houston a 3-1 lead in the third.

Tony Batista’s fourth-inning solo home run, his 19th, cut Houston’s lead to 3-2. He has eight homers and 26 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Houston manager Phil Garner was ejected in the second inning by first-base umpire Brian Knight after Garner argued that Jose Vizcaino was safe at first on a grounder.


Rauch made his first major league plate appearance Saturday night, striking out against Pettitte. … Rauch is the tallest pitcher in professional baseball history at 6-foot-11. … Montreal catcher Brian Schneider hasn’t made an error in 90 appearances behind the plate this season. He has also thrown out 23 of 47 base runners attempting to steal … Expos right fielder Juan Rivera had two assists. He has eight this season in only 49 outfield starts.

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