Astros rally late for 7-5 win over Rockies

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DENVER (AP)—The Cassel brothers both bailed out their teams, coming to the rescue when the starters went down.

Jack Cassel lifted the Houston Astros to a 7-5 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, throwing four solid innings after Wandy Rodriguez departed with a right oblique strain.

His younger brother, Matt, also came up with an admirable effort on a different field earlier in the day. Matt Cassel, the backup quarterback for the New England Patriots, got in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs after Tom Brady went down with a left knee injury and led the Patriots to a 17-10 win.

What are the chances of two backup brothers lifting their teams on the same afternoon?

“I can guarantee you that’s never happened in the history of sports before on the same day,” Houston’s Darin Erstad said. “Great job by Jack, and Matt as well. Great day for the Cassel family.”

Jack Cassel had a feeling something like this would happen when he saw his brother had been inserted for Brady.

However, he didn’t expect Rodriguez to depart after the first inning. Rodriguez gave up a leadoff single before striking out the side to end the first. But the pain began to intensify.

Enter Cassel.

“I just had this gut feeling (I’d pitch),” Cassel said. “I was happy to get in there and make the best of it.”

Cassel had yet to talk to his brother after the game. But the right-hander has a phone full of voice messages he can’t wait to listen to. Cassel also took a brief moment to gaze at his brother’s stats from the game—13-for-18 for 152 yards and one touchdown.

“I’m just completely elated for him,” Cassel said. “He’s worked his tail off his entire career to get out there and to play. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom, but in the meantime, Matt’s ready to step in.”

The Astros have won 10 of 11 to pull within six games of NL wild card-leading Milwaukee, which lost 10-1 loss to San Diego on Sunday.

The team definitely came through in the pinch against the Rockies, with pinch-hitters Erstad and David Newhan delivering consecutive run-scoring hits in the eighth inning.

Erstad’s bloop single tied it, and Newhan—on his 35th birthday—followed with a triple to center off Taylor Buchholz (6-5) to give Houston a 6-5 lead. Jose Castillo added a run-scoring single in the ninth and went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

“I went down the stinkin’ lineup, and I think everybody contributed something. Everybody did,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said.

The Rockies, the defending NL champions, lost for the third time in four games. They fell 6 1/2 games back of NL West-leading Los Angeles.

“These are the games that sting. They sting this time of the year,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Doug Brocail (7-5) tossed a scoreless seventh inning to earn the win in his 600th career appearance. LaTroy Hawkins threw a perfect eighth—hitting 97 mph on the radar gun—and Jose Valverde struck out the side in the ninth for his NL-leading 40th save.

Brad Hawpe hit a three-run homer and Matt Holliday had a two-run double for the Rockies. Clint Barmes finished with three singles.

“These are the ones that really hurt,” said Hawpe, who hit his 23rd homer in the sixth inning. “We came back to take the lead and weren’t able to hold it late in the game.”


Cooper said OF Ty Wigginton’s left hamstring remained sore and he could miss up to 10 days. He was injured running out a groundball on Saturday night. … Houston RHP Alberto Arias will start Monday against Pittsburgh, replacing RHP Brandon Backe, who experienced soreness in his arm during a bullpen session on Saturday. … Astros 2B Mark Loretta went 3-for-4 with an RBI. … Before Erstad and Newhan’s hits in the eight, the Astros were 0-for-12 in pinch-hit appearances.

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