DENVER (AP) Familiarity was not a factor when the Houston Astros defeated former farmhand Jason Hirsh. It was more a matter of veteran Lance Berkman taking advantage of a mistake in a critical situation.
The Astros trailed 1-0 with two out and two aboard and Berkman facing a 3-1 count in the sixth inning. Berkman drove the next pitch to the wall in center for the go-ahead runs, and the Astros went on to beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Tuesday night.
``It wasn't familiarity edge for him because it was the first time I ever faced him and the first time I faced a lot of those guys,'' said Hirsh, a second-round draft choice of the Astros in June 2003.
``Until you face a guy, you really don't know what it looks like from the other end,'' Berkman said. ``I don't think that played into it. It's the first time I ever faced him, and it felt like it.''
Houston only had one other hit when Berkman laced the eventual game-winner. He had to watch the lead stand up from the clubhouse, after getting ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a third strike.
``I thought I held up, but obviously, the third base umpire disagreed,'' Berkman said. ``It shouldn't have escalated into anything because all I said was, 'No way, no way.''
The benches briefly cleared in the ninth inning, when Manny Corpas pitched behind Carlos Lee. Houston manager Phil Garner joined Berkman in the clubhouse when he was ejected for arguing with umpire Ed Rapuano that something should have been done to Corpas.
``There wasn't any (history between Corpas and Lee),'' Garner said. ``There is now.''
Wandy Rodriguez (3-5) gave up one run on five hits for his first win since May 19. He struck out seven and walked one.
Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.
Luke Scott had three hits for the Astros, including a two-run homer in the ninth.
``Luke stepped up and put some icing on the cake on for us right there,'' Garner said. ``And that's the way it should be.''
Hirsh (2-6), who came to Colorado in an offseason trade from the Astros, retired the first 14 batters he faced before Scott lined a double to center with two outs in the fifth. Hirsch gave up two runs on five hits in six-plus innings to remain winless in his last eight starts.
He is 0-5 in that stretch and hasn't won since beating San Diego on April 22.
His pitch efficiency was good and it wasn't as if they barreled him out,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. ``The difference in the game was a double by Berkman, the home run from Scott and we can't score after getting leadoff doubles in the first and second innings and a leadoff triple in the sixth.''
Colorado broke through in the fourth on Matt Holliday's leadoff triple into the gap in left-center field. One out later, Atkins drilled a double to right to score Holliday and give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Rodriguez avoided further damage after Brad Hawpe reached on Craig Biggio's error and Yorvit Torrealba walked to load the bases by striking out Hirsh.
Houston got to Hirsh in the sixth inning, after a leadoff walk to Brad Ausmus and a hit-and run single to pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro. Hirsch struck out Biggio and got Hunter Pence to line out to third base, before Berkman lined a double to center to score Ausmus and Palmeiro.
Helton tripled to center off Dave Borowski to start the sixth, but Borowski retired the next three hitters in order.
Hirsh left after giving up a single to Scott and a double to Adam Everett to open the seventh.
``We had our chances,'' Hurdle said. ``ever tough to figure out when you get six extra base hit and score one run.''< ^Notes:@ Former Rockie RHP Jason Jennings spent time in the Colorado clubhouse before the game. ... Pence was robbed twice by catches by Atkins. ... The Colorado Rockies designated outfielder Steve Finley for assignment. ... Colorado purchased the contract of outfielder Sean Barker from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... Holliday has a 13-game hitting streak. Willie Taveras has a 10-game hitting streak.
(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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