Pence homers in Astros’ 7-4 win over Dodgers
Pence drove in a pair of runs and has a career-high 84 RBIs with three weeks left in his fourth season. He drove in 83 runs in 2008.
“There has been good hitting in front of me, (Michael) Bourn and (Jeff) Keppinger, and I’m getting more opportunities by hitting in the No. 3 spot,” Pence said. “I am grateful for the opportunity and feel good that it’s going the way it is.”
Carlos Lee(notes) hit his 21st homer of the season as the Astros earned a split of the four-game series against the Dodgers. Lee, Angel Sanchez(notes), Brett Wallace(notes) and Jason Castro(notes) each had two hits for the Astros, who have won 16 of their last 22 games at Minute Maid Park.
In his last five starts, Wallace has two double, two homers and four RBI.
“Hunter really set the pace with that homer in the first inning,” said Wallace, who recorded his first multi-RBI game. “He’s a guy that really brings a lot of energy for us.”
Chacin enticed a harmless fly out to left by Gibbons, just one inning after the hot-hitting lefty hit a 390-foot homer to the upper deck in right.
“He’s has been swinging the bat very good the last couple of games,” Chacin said. “He has been hitting the ball very good down the right field line, so we have been talking about staying away from him.”
The Astros scored twice against reliever Ramon Troncoso(notes) (1-3) in the fifth inning to take the lead for good. Wallace led off with a double and scored one out later on a bloop double to center field by Castro. Pinch-hitter Geoff Blum(notes) then followed with an RBI double to make it 6-4.
“It was nice to come back with some big hits to take the lead,” Astros manager Brad Mills(notes) said. “We got a big hit early from Hunter Pence and then were able to take advantage of an error. That was nice.”
The Astros scored four runs against Dodgers starter Carlos Monasterios(notes) in the first inning. After Bourn led off the game with a single, Pence made it 2-0 with his homer. On a full-count pitch, Monasterios left a slider up and Pence drilled it off the facade above the wall in left for a 390-foot home run.
Lee followed with a single, but it looked like the rookie pitcher would escape further damage when he got Matt Downs(notes) to hit a grounder to short. But instead of turning a double play, Dodgers shortstop Chin-Lung Hu(notes) threw the ball into right field leaving Lee and Downs on second and third.
Wallace drove in both with a single to right.
Monasterios didn’t make it out of the second inning and was replaced by Jeff Weaver(notes) after walking two of the first three batters he faced. The 24-year old rookie gave up five hits, four runs (three earned) while striking out two and walking two.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Monasterios still “needs to gain more confidence from more experience.”
“When we send him out there, we hope for the best” Torre added. “Sometimes, when he struggles early on, he doesn’t know how to fix it.”
Los Angeles got back in the game with a four-run fourth inning. Trent Oeltjen(notes) led off the inning with the Dodgers’ first hit of the game, and Andre Ethier(notes) reached with an infield hit one out later. Gibbons made it 4-3 with his home run.
Gibbons is now hitting .500 (7 for 14) with runners in scoring position since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 8.
NOTES: Astros rookie third baseman Chris Johnson(notes) missed his second straight game with a lower back injury. Johnson is second among NL rookies in batting at .319. Since the All-Star break, Johnson is sixth overall in the NL in hitting at .333 (min. 150 AB). … Prior to Sunday’s game, the Astros activated RHP Felipe Paulino(notes) from the 60-day disabled list. He missed the last three months with shoulder tendinitis. … Dodgers infielder John Lindsey(notes) recorded his first major league hit in the fifth inning. Pinch-hitting for relief pitcher Ronald Belisario(notes), Lindsey lined a single to left. Lindsey spent the first 16 years of his career in the minors and was recently called up for the first time. He made his first career start Saturday and went 0 for 3 at the plate.