Astros 6, Rockies 5
HOUSTON (AP)—With one absent-minded flip of the ball into the stands, Houston right fielder Jason Lane quickly secured his spot in every baseball blooper reel this season.
Hardly anyone thought Lane’s gaffe was funny at the time, except for those with a rooting interest in the Colorado Rockies.
But Lance Berkman was able to turn Lane’s embarrassing defensive blunder into a comical postscript with his go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning Tuesday night, helping the Astros rally for a 6-5 victory over the lowly Rockies.
“That happens to everybody—it happens to me about once or twice a year,” said Berkman, a notorious clubhouse jokester. “That’s one of those things we’ll look back on and laugh about. It’s going to be good comedy sometime down the road.”
Lane, however, was hardly in a laughing mood, especially after being the subject of boos for the final three innings.
“It’s hard for me to find humor in this right now because I take pride in my defense,” Lane said. “I’m mad at myself. It’s frustrating and embarrassing.”
Chad Qualls (2-3) faced only one batter for the win, Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect eighth and Brad Lidge got three outs for his 17th save in 20 chances to send Houston to its fourth win in five games.
Colorado, which has lost four straight, became the first club since the 1982 Minnesota Twins to start 5-30 on the road.
“We’ve been in almost every one of those games,” said starter Jamey Wright, who dropped to 0-11 with a 7.32 ERA in 16 appearances, including 15 starts, against Houston. “Hopefully, we’ll find a way to turn that around.”
That was before Lane cost Houston a run, and eventually its lead, in the sixth with an almost laughable—almost—attention lapse on defense.
With runners on second and third, Colorado’s Garrett Atkins drove in Todd Helton with a sacrifice fly to right. But after making the catch, Lane turned around and tossed the ball to a fan in the stands, thinking there were three outs when there were only two.
Preston Wilson took the opportunity to score from second on Lane’s mistake, bringing the Rockies to 4-2. As Wilson crossed home plate, Lane put his hands on his head and stood there with his mouth agape.
“I just missed an out somewhere,” Lane said. “There’s not a lot you can say. You just certainly can’t make mental errors like that.”
Like nearly everyone else in suddenly stunned Minute Maid Park, Atkins was initially confused by the play—or, more precisely, the lack of one by Lane.
“I saw him catch it and he was just standing there,” Atkins said. “Then I saw the two runs score. I didn’t know what he was doing.”
The night quickly got worse for Lane, a second-year player who has struggled in his first year as a starter.
The crowd of 28,788 really let Lane hear it when he led off the sixth, booing loudly after he popped up to the catcher on the first pitch.
“The fans paid good money to see major league players,” he said. “Stuff like this shouldn’t happen.”
Astros manager Phil Garner had a tongue-in-cheek solution for his young outfielder: “We’ll have to give him some rocks to put in his pocket. Then when we get an out, he can throw them on the field in front of him.”
Not surprisingly, Wright (4-7) and the Rockies found a way to mess things up against Houston even after Helton’s run-scoring triple gave Colorado a 5-4 lead in the seventh.
Wright allowed six runs, three earned, and eight hits, becoming the only active pitcher to go winless in at least 10 decisions against one team. Since 1969, only Armando Reynoso has fared worse against one club—0-10 in 16 games, 13 starts, against Atlanta.
“It’s been rough,” Wright said. “This is one of the toughest losses. They are a team that just crushes me.”
The Astros won their season-high sixth straight game at home. … Berkman had two doubles. … Biggio hit the 584th double of his career in the first, moving past Robin Yount for sole possession of 13th place in major league history. Up next are Cal Ripken Jr. and Paul Waner with 603. … With the loss, Colorado drops to 0-11-1 in road series this season. … The Rockies are 3-14 at Minute Maid Park, their worst record at any NL stadium.
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