<
>

Biggio sets NL record with 31st leadoff home run

4/11/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- As far as the Houston Astros were concerned, the most impressive thing about rookie Jeriome Robertson was the way he worked out of trouble.

Robertson pitched seven strong innings for his first career
victory and Craig Biggio set the NL record with his 31st leadoff
home run as Houston beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Thursday night.

Robertson was in a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning,
similar to the one he faced in the fifth inning of his first start
against Colorado on April 3.

In that one, he gave up eight runs and was pulled. This time,
the left-hander struck out Jose Guillen and Ruben Mateo.

"He's not a kid who panics,'' Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "He has very good mound presence. Certainly, I think (catcher Gregg) Zaun helped him.''

Robertson (1-1) allowed just two hits while striking out eight and walking three. He retired the last 11 batters he faced.

"I was feeling pretty good until I got myself in that little jam,'' Robertson said. "Zaunie called some good pitches and I stepped off the mound to get a little extra focus.''

Zaun is Robertson's regular catcher.

"I love working with him,'' Robertson said. "He kind of has that fiery attitude. I like that.''

Zaun thinks he and Robertson have a lot in common.

"We're both a little out there,'' he said. "He's a real
competitor. I didn't really say a lot to him tonight because when
he was in trouble, he was still aggressive.

"The difference between tonight and the last time is he was
amped up a little more then.''

The Reds were impressed with Robertson.

"He pitched a good game,'' manager Bob Boone said. "He kept us
off balance, but we chased an awful lot of bad pitches.''

Danny Graves (0-1) allowed four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"You're going to go through those spurts when the other pitcher
dominates,'' Graves said. "Tonight, the other pitcher just gave up
two hits and there's just nothing you can do when the other pitcher
is on like that. You just have to try to scratch out a few hits and
sometimes you're going to get some runs and sometimes you're not.''

Octavio Dotel struck out the side in order in the eighth inning
and Billy Wagner finished for his third save.

Biggio led off the game with a homer off Graves, breaking the NL
mark for leadoff homers set by Bobby Bonds. Rickey Henderson holds
the major league record with 80 leadoff home runs.

Jeff Kent added an RBI double and Richard Hidalgo hit an RBI single in the inning to make it 3-0.

Sean Casey's RBI single drove in Aaron Boone in the fourth
inning for Cincinnati's first run.

Zaun added an RBI single in the fifth for Houston.

Wagner allowed an RBI single by Austin Kearns in the ninth.

Game notes
Hidalgo is the only Astro to hit safely in all eight games. ... Astros 1B Jeff Bagwell needs three runs to reach 1,300 for his career. ... Jose Guillen was caught stealing in the second inning for the Reds' first attempt of the season. They were the only team in the majors that had not attempted a steal. ... Adam Dunn, in an 8-for-39 slump, was out of the Reds' starting lineup for the first time this season.