HOUSTON (AP) -- Astros manager Cecil Cooper didn't want to talk about anything or anyone else Thursday night before raving about Wandy Rodriguez.
"He's a good player," Cooper said when asked about second baseman David Newhan, "but let's talk about Wandy."Rodriguez pitched eight solid innings and tied a career high with nine strikeouts, leading the Houston Astros to a 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers."Tonight was really all about Wandy," Cooper said. "He pitched terrific. He really baffled them tonight."Hunter Pence had a bases-clearing triple to help the Astros to a 2-1 series win over their state rivals, Houston's second straight series win after taking two of three from Tampa Bay over the weekend.The Astros win came hours after they put pitcher Shawn Chacon on waivers. Chacon got into a physical altercation with general manager Ed Wade on Wednesday.If another team doesn't claim Chacon by Monday, the Astros say they will release the pitcher and terminate his contract for cause, which would set off a confrontation with the players' association over the nearly $1 million that would remain on Chacon's deal.Rodriguez (3-3) didn't allow a hit until a double by Kevin Millwood with one out in the third. He retired the next nine batters before Ian Kinsler singled with one out in the sixth."He kept us off balance with his breaking ball all night long," said Michael Young, who went 0-for-4. "He used his fastball both sides of the plate, but his curve was his best pitch."Milton Bradley singled in the seventh before Marlon Byrd reached on an error by Miguel Tejada. Rodriguez pitched out of trouble by retiring the next three Rangers. David Murphy tripled and scored on a single by Kinsler in the eighth that made it 7-1.The 29-year-old left-hander allowed five hits and struck out nine for the first time since August when he did it against the Cubs. It was his longest outing of the year. He also got his first hit of the year, a single in the second inning."I have a lot of confidence and I feel really good right now," Ramirez said, adding that he lobbied to go out for the ninth inning but was vetoed by Cooper because he'd thrown a career-high 105 pitches.Pence put the Astros up early with his three-run triple that landed on the hill in center field in the first inning. Michael Bourn singled before Tejada and Lance Berkman walked to load the bases.Newhan, who joined the team from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday, stretched Houston's lead to 5-0 when his double drove in two runs in the second inning. Newhan was 3-for-5. He scored on a single by Berkman before Berkman scored on a single by Carlos Lee to make it 7-0 after two."I feel comfortable," Newhan said. "I'm not wide-eyed. I just try to have fun. I know it can be taken away at any time."Texas' Chris Davis, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on Thursday, got his first career hit with a single off Oscar Villarreal in the ninth inning. Davis scored on Byrd's triple.Texas starter Millwood (5-4) allowed 12 hits and seven runs -- tying his season high in both categories -- in five innings."You have off days," manager Ron Washington said. "Today just wasn't one of his better days. We expect him to keep us in the game, but today it didn't happen."Josh Rupe, Joaquin Benoit and Jamey Wright combined for three scoreless innings for Texas.Rangers star slugger Josh Hamilton left the game after he was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Rodriguez in the first inning. He initially didn't appear to be injured and took his base. Hamilton then played defense in the bottom half before he was replaced by Brandon Boggs in the second.X-rays were negative and he is listed as day to day."I'm definitely happy it's not broken and he didn't hit me in the face or anything," Hamilton said. "It was just a bruise, but it's sore."Hamilton, who leads the majors with 76 RBIs, was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game early and missing Wednesday's game with inflammation in his left knee.
Rangers right fielder Bradley was back in the starting lineup Thursday after not starting since straining his left quadriceps June 17. He was 1-for-3. ... Houston tied a season high with 15 hits.