ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Hampton's numbers are much better than a year ago. So is his timing.
As part of an 0-5 start in 2004, Hampton pitched a complete game on May 18 but still lost as Arizona's Randy Johnson threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves.Hampton pitched his first complete game since then on Sunday, and this time he had overwhelming offensive support as the Braves hit five homers in a 16-0 rout of the Houston Astros.Hampton (4-1) pitched a two-hitter and homered and rookie Ryan Langerhans had six RBI as the Braves completed a four-game sweep in the Astros' 11th straight road loss.Hampton had faced the minimum 24 batters before giving up his second hit and first walk in the ninth inning. But the Braves' second double play allowed Hampton to face only one batter over the minimum in his first career two-hitter.Hampton said he wasn't thinking about protecting the one-hitter in the ninth."I guess it was probably in the middle innings I thought about it a little bit," he said. "But in the ninth inning, your adrenaline is pumping. You're wanting to finish it off. I didn't
have a chance to think about stuff like that."Hampton gave up a leadoff single to Mike Lamb in the second, but Jose Vizcaino then hit into a double play. Hampton did not allow another baserunner until Adam Everett led off the ninth with a walk. Raul Chavez then hit into a double play before Orlando Palmeiro reached on an infield single."He had a good sinker working," Houston's Jason Lane said. "He was mixing his pitches. He had a good changeup and a good cutter. He was always working ahead in the count. It's tough to sit on anything when he has all his pitches working."Hampton allowed his fewest hits in a complete game."That's about as good as you're going to see," Atlanta's Chipper Jones said. "To come that close to a one-hitter was pretty impressive. It would have been pretty cool to see him face the minimum."Hampton has two three-hit shutouts in his career, most recently on Aug. 12, 1997, for Houston in a 6-0 win over the Mets.The Astros were without three top hitters. Jeff Bagwell missed the series with a sore shoulder, and Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio were rested by manager Phil Garner.Langerhans hit two-run homers in the second and seventh and added a two-run double in the Braves' five-run third."This is what I've always dreamed of doing," said Langerhans, who began the day with one homer and two RBI.Eddie Perez and Andruw Jones also homered for Atlanta.Bolstered by an 8-0 lead after three innings, Hampton rebounded from his worst start of the season. He was tagged for eight hits and six runs Tuesday in an 11-6 loss to Florida, his only start in which he allowed more than three runs this season.Hampton capped his big day with a home run off Chad Harville in
the eighth inning. It was his 15th career homer, the most by an active pitcher.The Braves outscored the Astros 38-8 in the four games and outhit the Astros 17-2 Sunday. Braves starters allowed only three runs in the series. The sweep gave Atlanta a five-game winning streak and 13 wins in the last 16 games.The Astros have lost six straight and 11 of their last 15.The Astros, 1-14 on the road this season, have their longest road losing streak since a 12-game skid in 1996. The Astros' record for consecutive road losses is 13, most recently in 1990.Sunday was Houston's fifth shutout loss in the 15 road games."I'm hoping this is as bad as it gets," Garner said. "That was a god-awful game. ... Nobody can be that bad."Making his second start, Astros rookie Ezequiel Astacio (0-1) allowed eight runs and nine hits in five innings.Leading 3-0, the Braves put away the game with five runs on five consecutive two-out hits in the third. Three straight singles by Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones and Brian Jordan drove in one run. Langerhans added a two-run double, followed by the two-run homer by Perez.Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer, his fifth, off Brandon Duckworth in the five-run seventh. After Jordan reached on an infield single, Langerhans hit his second two-run homer.After Hampton's homer, Pete Orr added a two-run double off Harville in the eighth inning.
Langerhans began the day with two RBI for the season. ... Pitcher Brandon Backe pinch-hit for Astacio with two outs in the sixth and grounded out to third. ... Though said to be available for pinch-hit duty, Bagwell did not play in the series. ... Hampton's last home run was Oct. 1, 2004.