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Houston falls further behind St. Louis

9/12/2002

HOUSTON (AP) -- Two homers and five RBI from Jeff Bagwell
weren't enough to keep Colorado from damaging Houston's postseason
hopes.

Rookie Aaron Cook won his second consecutive start, allowing
seven hits in six innings Wednesday night as the Colorado Rockies
beat the Astros 8-6.

Houston, which has 16 games remaining, dropped 6½ games behind
NL Central-leading St. Louis. The Astros begin a four-game series
at home against the Cardinals on Thursday night.

''We've put ourselves in a tough situation, but we have played
pretty good baseball the last two months,'' Bagwell said. ''We
can't think sweep against the Cardinals. We just have the think
about winning the first game.''

Bagwell reached 30 homers for the seventh consecutive season and
the eighth time in nine years. Bagwell, who also homered Tuesday,
has three multihomer games this year and 26 in his career. It was
his third five-RBI game this season.

''As far as I'm concerned I didn't accomplish anything,''
Bagwell said. ''I'm just trying to help win some games and make
things interesting in the last week.''

Houston's Brad Ausmus agrees with Bagwell's analysis of
Houston's position in the race.

''We can't afford to lose much, whether its to the Cardinals or
anyone else. We are 6 1/2 back with 16 to go. That's not
insurmountable, but it's not an easy task,'' Ausmus said.

Kirk Saarloos (6-5) gave up six runs -- five earned -- seven hits
and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. The Astros had won their previous
seven home games against the Rockies.

''I felt good until the fifth,'' Saarloos said. ''I just kept
leaving the ball higher and higher in the zone and when that
happens you get hit.''

Cook (2-1), making his fourth major league start, allowed three
runs, struck out four and walked one. He also had a run-scoring
single in the fifth inning for his first major league hit and RBI
as the Rockies damaged the Astros' playoff chances.

''That is our job right now. To play the spoiler and try to get
as many wins as we can. Anytime you get a win it's good but this
makes it even a little better,'' Cook said.

Bagwell put Houston ahead with an RBI single in the third, but
Todd Zeile tied it with a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Colorado broke open the game in the fifth on RBI singles by Jose
Uribe and Cook, Juan Pierre's run-scoring groundout, Gabe Kapler's
RBI single and a run-scoring throwing error by catcher Brad Ausmus.

Bagwell hit two-run homers in the sixth and eighth innings,
sandwiched around a two-run homer by Todd Helton.

Game notes
Jay Payton left in the third inning after straining a
ribcage muscle trying to catch a fly ball by Brian Hunter. ...
Helton is batting .469 (15-for-32) with six home runs and 12 RBI at
Minute Maid Park this season ... Lance Berkman tied his career high
with four hits for the seventh time Wednesday night ... Bagwell has
379 career home runs, tying him with Tony Perez for 46th on the
all-time homer list.