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Astros rally from four down in ninth

4/3/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Astros hadn't done this in 11 years.

Not since April 9, 1992, had Houston trailed by four runs in the
ninth inning and come back to win.

That's what happened Wednesday night, when Craig Biggio's
two-run single capped a five-run ninth inning in an 8-7 win over
the Colorado Rockies.

"When you're down by four with their closer on the mound, you
don't expect to win,'' Biggio said. "But those guys ahead of me
did their jobs and you never give up. We gave ourselves an
opportunity to win and we'll sure take it.''

The last time this happened was at the Astrodome, when Houston
overcame a 5-1, ninth-inning deficit against Cincinnati and won 6-5
in 13 innings.

This also was the first time Colorado, which began play in 1993,
ever lost on the road after leading by four runs in the ninth
inning. The Rockies have lost twice at Coors Field after leading by
four runs in the ninth.

Jose Jimenez (0-1) replaced Todd Jones with a 7-3 lead and gave
up six hits while retiring just one batter. Jimenez waved off
interview requests after the game.

"It's a lonely feeling for him right now,'' Jones said. "But
you know if we're going to do anything this year, we're going to
have to rely on him. It's just tough for him right now but those
are the ups and downs of being a closer.''

Houston's rally began when Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Jeff
Kent loaded the bases with singles, and Richard Hidalgo hit a
two-run single.

"He just got the ball up over the plate and they put the barrel
on it,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "The first three balls
were hit on the ground.''

After Brad Ausmus bunted into a forceout at third, Orlando
Merced pinch hit for Billy Wagner (1-0) and had an RBI double that
made it 7-6. Jose Vizcaino was intentionally walked, and Biggio
singled to left.

"It is just one game, but it shows what we are capable of
doing,'' Bagwell said. "We can build on that. It helps your
confidence because you know that you did something like that
before.''

Houston, which outhit the Rockies 14-13, won despite stranding
13 runners, and Colorado left 11. Bagwell had three hits and Biggio
drove in three runs.

With Colorado ahead 3-2 and the bases loaded following walks to
Ronnie Belliard and Jay Payton, Todd Helton singled to shallow
right field. Chris Stynes scored on the hit off Wade Miller, and
the ball rolled by Hidalgo for a two-run error that gave the
Rockies a 6-2 lead.

"The first four innings were like two drunks fighting early in
the morning,'' Hurdle said. "It took a long time to play, there
were a lot of body blows, and it wasn't pretty.''

A throwing error by Colorado catcher Charles Johnson cut the gap
to 6-3 in the fourth, but Belliard had an RBI single in the fifth
off Pete Munro.

Rockies starter Aaron Cook gave up three runs -- two earned --
eight hits and four walks in four innings. Miller, who stayed in
after he was hit by Chris Stynes' comebacker in the second, allowed
five runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.

Colorado took a 3-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Cook,
Belliard and Jay Payton. Todd Helton followed with another single,
but Hidalgo threw out Belliard at the plate.

Game notes
Ausmus, Houston's catcher, received his second straight
Gold Glove award prior to the game. ... After two opening-night
homers, Bagwell is tied with Frank Howard for 43rd place on the
home run list with 382. ... Nelson Cruz is to start Thursday
against his old teammates. "Yesterday, I was running in the
outfield and some people were saying stuff like, `We miss you,'''
Cruz said. "At least they haven't forgotten me.'' ... Rockies RHP
Scott Elarton will begin a rehabilitation assignment Friday at
Triple-A Colorado Springs, continuing his recovery from shoulder
surgery.