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Loretta, Astros hand Rockies 8th straight loss

Astros 9, Rockies 8

HOUSTON (AP) -- Carlos Lee predicted Mark Loretta would hit the
game-winner before the ninth inning on Friday night.

Maybe the Houston Astros slugger should moonlight as a psychic.

Loretta hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to lift
the Astros to a 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies, the second night
in a row the Astros hit a walk-off home run off Rockies closer
Brian Fuentes.

It was the fourth blown save in eight days for Fuentes, and the
Rockies have lost eight straight.

With two outs, Fuentes (0-4) walked Carlos Lee, who hit a grand
slam in the 11th off Fuentes on Thursday night. Loretta followed,
homering to the Crawford Boxes in left for his second home run of
the season.

"I told him: 'You better be ready. I've got the feeling you're
going to do it today,' " Lee said laughing. "If I guessed like
that all the time it would be unbelievable."

Lee didn't see his own future though. He didn't tell Loretta
he'd walk before his hit.

"He didn't say that," Loretta said. "He's not that much of a
soothsayer."

The Astros are the first team to win consecutive games with
walk-off home runs since Tampa Bay did it on May 19-20, 2006,
according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It's the first time in
franchise history that Houston has accomplished the feat.

Lance Berkman said two straight come from behind wins are good
for team morale, but that they can't make too much out of them.

"There's such a long way to go," he said. "We can't get too
giddy about two wins."

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was evasive when asked if Fuentes,
who has 20 saves this year, might get a break from closing.

"That's an option," he said. "I'm not going to overanalyze
this in the papers. We just need one more out to put it away and we
just can't get it."

Fuentes was not available for comment after the game, but his
teammates said they aren't concerned about him.

"He's my guy. I've got complete faith in him," first baseman
Todd Helton said. "He's the closer. It's a tough job. That's why
you pick a guy with the right attitude who's able to bounce back
and I know he will."

Garrett Atkins hit two home runs in a losing effort for the
Rockies. Ryan Spilborghs' pinch-hit single to center field scored
Brad Hawpe in the seventh inning and put Colorado up 8-7.

Dave Borkowski (2-3) allowed one hit and walked one in the ninth
for the win.

Hurdle said this stretch has been frustrating for the team.

"It's losing the games that's bothering us," he said. "You
can't put your finger on any one thing. It comes down to execution
across the board. We just need to keep clawing and working like we
have been before."

A single by Matt Holliday in the sixth scored Willy Taveras and
tied it at 7. Taveras was hit by a pitch before stealing second and
advancing to third on an error.

Berkman drove in two runs on his first triple of the year in
Houston's four-run fifth inning. The ball landed just under the
wall in right field and Hawpe indicated that it was trapped, but
first base umpire Gary Darling ruled that it wasn't. Hurdle argued
the call for several minutes, but it wasn't changed.

Lee followed with an RBI single, and a run-scoring double by
Mike Lamb put Houston ahead 7-6.

Helton broke an 0-for-11 streak with a single in the second
inning and hit his first home run since June 2 in the fifth to push
Colorado's lead to 6-3.

A broken bat single by Taveras drove in two runs in the fourth
and put Colorado on top 5-3.

Eric Munson tied the game at 2 when his double drove in a pair
of runs in the second.

Berkman's solo homer in the third put the Astros ahead 3-2. It
marked his third consecutive game with a home run and was his 800th
career RBI.

Atkins hit a two-run homer to center field in the second inning.
The hit, which bounced off the wall, was initially ruled a triple,
then changed to a home run after a short meeting among umpires.

His second home run of the night was a solo shot to center field
that tied it at 3 in the fourth inning. It was his sixth game with
a homer in his last 15 and his second career multihomer game.

Houston starter Chris Sampson allowed eight hits and seven runs
with four walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Colorado
starter Josh Fogg gave up seven hits and seven runs in 4 2/3
innings.

Notes
Taveras had two stolen bases on Friday to push his season total to 20. That's the most stolen bases by a Rockies player since Juan Pierre had 47 in 2002. ... A day after reaching 3,000 hits in a five-hit game, Craig Biggio went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.