Astros use walks, hit batters for 7th straight win
HOUSTON (AP)—Manager Cecil Cooper called it opportunistic and pitcher Randy Wolf called it strange.
San Francisco pitchers tied a major league record by hitting three batters in the inning, and also issued four walks. In all, Houston’s six runs were driven in by two hit batters, two walks and two sacrifice flies.
“It was a crazy inning,” Quintero said, “but that happens. Baseball’s just crazy.”
“That was a strange inning,” he said. “It was definitely wild but we’ll take it. (Giants pitcher Barry) Zito was doing really well. Unfortunately for him at the end, things went bad and we just kind of got in the way of some balls.”
Cooper thinks it’s just the way things are going for an Astros team that has won a season-high seven straight and 15 of 19 overall. The seven-game streak is Houston’s longest since a nine-game run in September 2006.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’ll take it,” Cooper said. “That’s the sign of a good team, taking advantage of your opportunities.”
Wolf (8-10) didn’t allow a hit until Fred Lewis’ leadoff single in the fourth. He improved to 2-0 in four starts since the Astros acquired him from San Diego on July 22.
Zito (6-15) shut out the Astros on two hits through five innings, but the Giants’ 1-0 lead quickly disappeared when he and reliever Billy Sadler lost their control.
“That’s hard to explain,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “(Zito) was locked in. It started with the bang-bang play at first, mix in a walk, a blooper and then he just got out of rhythm and couldn’t make a pitch.
“Then we can’t hit two batters with the bases loaded.”
Ty Wigginton led off with a single, Mark Loretta walked and Miguel Tejada blooped a single to center that loaded the bases. Lance Berkman drew a walk that tied the score and sacrifice flies by Geoff Blum and Reggie Abercrombie made it 3-1.
After Zito hit Quintero with a pitch to reload the bases, the pitcher walked Wolf to force home another run.
“I’m most upset with the walk to Loretta and hitting Quintero,” Zito said. “Those were the difference-makers. It’s my job to come back and attack Loretta. You can’t do anything about bloop hits and sacrifice flies. It’s on me for walking Loretta. That’s the difference-maker.”
Sadler took over and hit the first two batters he faced, Wigginton and Loretta, to make it 6-1.
“You just have to go right at them,” Sadler said, “and I just made two mistakes.”
It was the 35th time in major league history a team has hit three batters in one inning, and the first since San Diego batters were plunked three times by New York Mets pitchers on June 7.
Houston also had three batters hit by a pitch in an inning on Sept. 13, 1997, against the Dodgers. … Rohlinger was called up from Double-A Connecticut earlier in the day. Making his big league debut, he struck out in his first inning, then made a throwing error at third base on Wigginton’s leadoff grounder in the bottom half. … Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who left Tuesday’s game with a bone bruise on his right knee after taking a line drive off the bat of Brad Ausmus, was walking and feeling better. He said he felt “100 percent” sure he would make his next start Sunday at Atlanta. Manager Bruce Bochy smiled and said “probably 99.9 percent.” … With 2B Kazuo Matsui day-to-day because of a sore back, Wigginton moved into the leadoff spot. It was only Wigginton’s second game in the leadoff role this season. Wigginton’s infield single in the sixth gave him a season-high 10-game hitting streak.