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Astros hammer Pettitte

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Houston Astros probably aren't going to win a lot of games this season. But if April is any indication, the wins they do record will be lopsided ones.

Carlos Corporan set career highs Monday night with four hits and four RBIs and the Astros hammered Andy Pettitte in his worst start since returning from retirement in a 9-1 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Astros snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 8-18, still the worst in the American League. But six of those victories have been by at least five runs.

"It definitely feels good," said winning pitcher Lucas Harrell, who allowed eight hits but induced three double plays in 6 1/3 innings. "We've got a group of guys in here working hard and trying to get better every day. We have some quality baseball players in here and we've been struggling a little bit, but the big key is we keep working hard."

Brandon Barnes had three hits and three RBIs for the Astros, who had six players with at least two hits and racked up three multi-run innings against Pettitte.

"Just because it's Yankee Stadium, we can't get too hyped up or think we have to do too much," Barnes said. "Guys were swinging the bats tonight."

Houston scored its first five runs - three in the first and two in the fourth - with two outs before chasing Pettitte during a four-run fifth.

Pettitte, who was pitching on the 18th anniversary of his big league debut, gave up seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits and one walk over 4 1/3 innings. Pettitte entered Monday with a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts since rejoining the Yankees last year following a one-season retirement.

The outing was the shortest for Pettitte since last June 27, when he lasted just four innings before being hit by a comebacker and suffering a broken leg. Monday's game represented his briefest outing in a start not cut short by injury since he threw four innings against the Red Sox on Oct. 2, 2010.

"He had a tough start, it happens," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was Pettitte's teammate in New York from 1996 through 1999. "As I've said sometimes, when you see Derek [Jeter] and Mo [Rivera] and Andy - when they don't have success, that's when it really surprises you. But it happens to the great ones."

Pettitte recorded the first two outs of the game on just six pitches, but Brandon Laird, Chris Carter and Carlos Pena all singled, with Laird coming home on Pena's hit, before Ronny Cedeno walked to load the bases. Corporan followed with a two-run double to right to extend the lead to 3-0.

Corporan led off the fourth with a single before consecutive two-out doubles by Jose Altuve and Barnes gave the Astros a 5-0 lead.

In the fifth, Carter singled, Pena struck out and Cedeno doubled to chase Pettitte. Carter scored on a wild pitch by reliever Adam Warren, who then gave up a two-run homer to Corporan.

"Everybody did their job," Corporan said. "My teammates, they had a lot of really good at-bats and I took advantage of that and had good swings and got RBIs. It's teamwork. Without them, I couldn't have this game tonight."

Corporan had two chances to hit the triple that would have completed the cycle, but he singled in the seventh and reached on an error in the ninth. After his hit in the seventh, Corporan was tagged out at third for the final out of the inning when he pulled up with a cramp trying to advance from first to third on Jose Altuve's single.

Corporan entered Monday night with two three-hit games on his resume - on June 28, 2010, and Aug. 19, 2010 - and had a three-RBI game on Sept. 10, 2010.

Harrell, who improved to 3-2, walked one, struck out four and got 14 groundball outs.

"The guys hit the ball really well and took a lot of pressure off me," Harrell said.

Vernon Wells had two hits, including an RBI single, for the Yankees, while Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano also had two singles apiece.

NOTES: Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has missed eight of the last nine games with a stiff lower back, had an MRI Monday. Results were negative, but Girardi said after the game that Youkilis will have an epidural and that the team will decide overnight whether to place him on the disabled list. ... Pettitte came on in relief on April 29, 1995 and gave up two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning in the Yankees' 10-3 win over the Royals. He made five relief appearances before his first start May 27. He's made five relief appearances since then -- one each in 1996, 1998 and 2006 and two in 2007. ... The Astros entered Monday 1-8 all-time against the Yankees, but the one win was a no-hitter on June 11, 2003, in which six Astros -- the most pitchers ever used in a no-hitter -- combined on the gem. Starter Roy Oswalt, who got hurt after one inning, was followed by Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, winning pitcher Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner in the first no-hitter against the Yankees since 1958. ... Astros starter Brad Peacock was demoted to the bullpen Monday, two days after he gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. Peacock is 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA and hasn't lasted more than five innings in any of his five starts.
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