<
>

Hidalgo hits three of Astros' six home runs

DENVER (AP) -- Richard Hidalgo's three-homer, five-RBI
performance shouldn't have been surprising. This is his time of
year.

Hidalgo ranks first among active players in career hitting
during the month of September at .380 (123-for-324).

"I can't explain that," Hidalgo said Tuesday night after
leading the Houston Astros to a 14-4 romp over the Colorado
Rockies.

"I saw the ball pretty good tonight," he said. "I just tried
to see the ball and hit it. Three homers -- I'm happy about that,
and I'm happy we won the game."

The Astros, who have won 10 of their last 12, remained 1{ games
ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Chicago beat the New
York Mets 3-2.

Adam Everett added a three-run homer as the Astros connected six
times, and Jeriome Robertson pitched seven strong innings.

Robertson (15-7) set a Houston rookie record with his 15th win.
He had been tied with Roy Oswalt, who won 14 in 2001. Robertson
allowed two runs, six hits and walked three and struck out two.

Hidalgo's three homers matched a Houston record for homers in a
game, and his five RBI equaled a career high. He struck out in the
ninth in his bid to become the 15th player to homer four times in a
regular-season game.

"I don't try to hit home runs," he insisted.

Jeff Kent and Morgan Ensberg hit solo homers for the Astros.

"Hidalgo hit the ball extremely well, to say the least,"
manager Jimy Williams said. "You don't see that very often, when a
guy has three home runs in one game. The way he's hit, certainly of
late, has been a big reason we've won some games.

"Robertson set the tone in that game by the way he pitched.
Fifteen wins is pretty darn good, I don't care what league you're
pitching in. Early in the year he was sent down, and he's really
done an outstanding job for us since coming back."

Greg Norton had a two-run homer for Colorado, which has lost
nine of its last 10 at home.

Colorado starter Chin-hui Tsao (2-3), activated from the
disabled list before the game, went four innings, allowing five
runs -- four earned -- and four hits.

"Embarrassing? Yes," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
"Sometimes you want to scream and you want to kick, but until we
get to the point where we pitch better consistently, it's hard to
yell at the whole club. We have some young guys who are taking some
lumps and getting taken to the woodshed on the mound. We didn't do
anything well tonight."

The Rockies went ahead 1-0 in the first on Todd Helton's RBI
single.

Houston tied it in the second on Hidalgo's solo homer, his 25th.

Everett's three-run homer made it 4-1 in the fourth. Kent led
off with a single and went to second on a groundout. Hidalgo
walked, and Kent was out at third on Raul Chavez's fielder's
choice. Everett followed with a 425-foot homer.

Kent's RBI single and Hidalgo's second homer, a three-run shot,
upped the lead to 8-1 in the fifth.

Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch for a major league-leading 25th
time this season. Ensberg reached on third baseman Chris Stynes'
fielding error, chasing Tsao. Aaron Cook entered and got Jeff
Bagwell on a double-play grounder. But Kent followed with a
run-scoring single, Lance Berkman walked and Hidalgo hit a 435-foot
homer to right-center.

In the Rockies half, Ronnie Belliard hit a solo homer, his
fifth.

Houston pushed across two more runs in the sixth, one of which
scored when Everett raced home from first as catcher Gregg Zaun
threw wild to first on Robertson's bunt.

The Astros made it 13-2 with three runs in the seventh. Kent led
off with his 22nd homer, off Adam Bernero, and Hidalgo connected
again. Everett, who reached on an error, scored on Robertson's
triple.

Game notes
Tsao went on the DL Aug. 24 with a strained left hamstring.
... The six homers were the most for the Astros since they hit a
franchise-record seven on Sept. 9, 2000, at the Chicago Cubs. ...
Helton extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... The teams
hadn't met in Denver since Colorado's opening homestand of the 2002
season.