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Astros reliever Sipp lines up in right field

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- The Houston Astros' bullpen was taxed.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a stretch of five left-handed hitters in seven spots in the batting.

There was only one thing for Astros manager Bo Porter to do.

Put left-hander Tony Sipp in right field for an out.

Sipp moved from the mound to right field to the mound again in the eighth inning, when he helped preserve Houston's 4-3 victory over Arizona. After retiring all three lefties he faced in the seventh, Sipp struck out lefty Gerardo Parra to open the eighth.

Then it got fun.

Porter brought in right-hander Jerome Williams to face righty Paul Goldschmidt. But not wanting to lose his matchup advantage against the next batter, lefty Miguel Montero, Porter shifted Sipp to right. After Williams walked Goldschmidt, Sipp returned to the mound to strike out Montero.

His work was done -- five-for-five against lefties.

"I thought those days were behind me," said Sipp, who played center field and pitched at Clemson. "I thought I would just pitch around Goldschmidt. I never thought I would go out and play the field and come back. (Porter) joked about it my first day I signed with the Astros, but I thought it was just a joke."

Porter told Sipp about the likely scenario, and even had him bring his outfielder's glove to the bench before the inning.

"I've watched him shag fly balls. He is a power shagger," Porter said. "We're completely comfortable putting him out in the outfield."

With left-hander Darin Downs unavailable and long relief lefty Henry Owens needed in case the game went into extra innings, Porter said he had only one option there in the eighth.

"I don't like doing it like that," Porter said. "I'd rather have all seven guys available down there (bullpen). But sometimes you have to take the roster that you have and make the most of it to do everything you can to put us in position to win a ball game. I think our guys responded well."

"I don't think I had time to be nervous," Sipp said. "Just more focused more than anything."

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