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Arizona rallies with two runs in ninth

6/19/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks beat Billy Wagner on his
big day.

Luis Gonzalez hit a solo homer over the 330-foot wall in left
field and Quinton McCracken added an RBI single in the top of the
ninth to rally the Diamondbacks to a 2-1 victory over the Houston
Astros on Wednesday night.

Wagner, whose wife Sarah gave birth to a seven-pound, five-ounce
girl earlier in the day, blew only his second save of the season
and snapped a string of 16 consecutive saves. He didn't arrive at
the game until the first inning.

"It was a great day, a special day for me," Wagner said. "The
game wasn't the best but I don't want to sound like my big day had
anything to do with it. That had nothing to do with tonight's
performance.

"I missed location on about three pitches and they hit all
three of them."

Wagner (1-3) came in to protect a 1-0 Houston lead in the ninth,
but Gonzalez led off with his 14th homer of the season to tie it.

"Billy's one of the most dominate relievers in the game,"
Gonzalez said. "If he's going to beat you he's going to beat you
with his best stuff. I just sat on a fastball. He left one out over
the plate and fortunately in this ball park I was able to get it
over the mini-monster."

Robby Hammock followed Gonzalez's homers with a broken-bat
double. Wagner then struck out Lyle Overbay and pinch-hitter Rod
Barajas before McCracken lined a single to right.

Right fielder Richard Hidalgo threw home to try to catch a
sliding Hammock, but catcher Brad Ausmus didn't get the tag down in
time.

"He was safe," Ausmus said. "To be honest with you, I never
had control of the ball. I caught it between my arm and my chest.
He hit my shin guard but I don't know if he hit the plate or not. I
suppose he did."

Oscar Villareal (5-4) pitched one inning to earn the victory.

"Wagner is going to come right at you. I just wanted to put a
good swing on it and sneak that hit in there and I was fortunate to
do so," McCracken said.

Jose Valverde came in after Lance Berkman's leadoff walk in the
ninth and got three outs for his fourth save in four chances.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead into the ninth behind Jeff Kent's
second-inning homer and 6 1-3 strong innings by Ron Villone, who
started the season in the Diamondbacks' organization.

"It goes back to familiarity," Arizona manager Bob Brenly
said. "With the closer you know what to expect. Wagner isn't all
of a sudden going to start throwing splits and changeups. Villone
was mixing it up pretty good."

Villone was making his first start of the season after being
called up from Triple-A New Orleans.

"It was all right, I kept us in the game and that's what I
wanted to do," Villone said.

Kent's 11th homer increased his team leading RBI total to 50,
one day after his RBI single in the eighth gave the Astros a 4-3
victory over Arizona.

Villone compiled a 3-1 record at New Orleans before he was
recalled by the Astros. He held the Diamondbacks in check from the
start, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out six in 6
1/3 innings.

Arizona starter Brandon Webb held Houston to three hits over six
innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Game notes
Rodrigo Rosario will become the Astros' 11th starting
pitcher this season when he starts against the Texas Rangers on
Saturday. Rosario replaced Roy Oswalt. who is on the 15-day
disabled list with a groin injury.