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Astros 7, Rockies 5

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Until Thursday, Colorado Rockies reliever Wilton Lopez had given up more than one home run in a game just once in his big league career. That was in his major league debut on Aug. 28, 2009, with the Houston Astros when Lopez yielded three homers.

Since then, Lopez had yielded just 15 home runs in 239 appearances, a stretch that included his first 27 appearances and 27 1/3 innings for the Rockies, who acquired Lopez from the Astros in December.

But Lopez gave up back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning Thursday when the Houston Astros, who had all but tried to give the game to the Rockies early, struck for six runs and beat the Rockies 7-5.

After starter Juan Nicasio gave up four straight hits and two runs to start the sixth, Lopez yielded a three-run homer to Chris Carter, his 10th homer of the season. Matt Dominguez followed with his eighth homer to put the Astros ahead 7-3.

The Rockies scored a two-out run in the sixth on Carlos Gonzalez's single, which came on Lucas Harrell's 119th and last pitch. Brad Peacock relieved Harrell and got Troy Tulowitzki to ground into a fielder's choice.

Peacock pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Harrell. Astros manager Bo Porter did not want to use closer Jose Veras, because he had pitched in the past three games. So Porter brought on left-hander Wesley Wright just to face Gonzalez, who led off the ninth with a single, before turning matters over to Hector Ambriz. With Tulowitzki batting, Gonzalez stole his third base of the game and 12th in as many attempts this season. Tulowitzki singled just beyond the diving Cedeno. Ambriz struck out Michael Cuddyer.

Todd Helton hit a sacrifice fly, but Ambriz struck out Nolan Arenado looking to end the game and earn his first save of the season.

The Rockies scored a run in each of the first three innings but stranded seven runners in that span. The Astros tried to gift-wrap a big early inning with four errors in those first three innings, including three in the third, when two of the errors came on throws by shortstop Ronny Cedeno.

The Astros won three of four games from the Rockies this week, including both games at Coors Field. Despite their overall record of 17-37, the Astros have split their past 14 games. Ten of those 14 games have been decided by two or fewer runs, and the Astros are 6-4 in those games.

The Rockies lost for the fifth time in six games. They left runners on second and third in the first, left the bases loaded in the second and left men on second and third in the third.

Harrell retired the first two batters he faced in the first inning on seven pitches, but his pitch count was at 54 after the second inning when he was fortunate the Rockies were only leading by two runs. With two out in the first, Harrell walked Gonzalez, who stole second and third, and Harrell then walked Tulowitzki.

Gonzalez scored on the slow roller Cuddyer hit to second baseman Jose Altuve. His wide throw put runners on second base and third, but Helton grounded out.

After Yorvit Torrealba's infield single with one out in the second, Nicasio sacrificed, and Dexter Fowler singled Torrealba home. Harrell hit DJ LeMahieu with a pitch and walked Gonzalez to load the bases, but Tulowitzki flied out.

Three errors in the third inning, two of them on throws by Cedeno, helped the Rockies score an unearned run and go ahead 3-0. The defensive follies began when Helton hit a potential double-play grounder, but Cedeno, with Cuddyer bearing down on him, threw past first base.

Cedeno fielded Nolan Arenado's grounder and tried to nail Helton at third but threw wide of the base. Torrealba followed with a run-scoring single. Catcher Jason Castro dropped Juan Nicasio's sacrifice, but Fowler grounded back to pitcher Harrell, who started a 1-2-3 double play.

The Astros had runners on second and third with no out in the fourth but netted just one run when Carlos Pena grounded to first baseman Helton, who started a double play.

Notes: Rockies LHP Jeff Francis is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday followed by rehab starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday at Salt Lake City (70-75 pitches) and on June 8 at Reno (90-100 pitches). Francis is on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain, which he said is "not perfect yet, but it's a lot better." Francis had to adjust his rehab schedule after he took a hard grounder off the front of his left ankle Tuesday in an extended spring training game...RHP Roy Oswalt made his second start Wednesday for Tulsa, the Rockies Double-A affiliate, and allowed three hits and one run in six innings. Manager Walt Weiss said Oswalt's fastball was up to 93 mph and his secondary stuff was "good." He's scheduled to make three more starts for Tulsa and then be re-evaluated by the Rockies... Astros manager Bo Porter said he did not plan to use closer Jose Veras, since he had pitched three straight days, and that Hector Ambriz would close, if needed...Porter said reliever Edgar Gonzalez was unavailable due to shoulder soreness...Astros SS Marwin Gonzalez had tenderness in his right hamstring and might be available on a double switch -- as was the case Wednesday -- but Porter said he hoped not to use him.
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