Buchholz just misses shutout for first big league win

HOUSTON (AP) -- Taylor Buchholz was so happy about his first
major league win that he quickly forgave the teammate who might
have kept him from finishing a shutout.

Buchholz came within one out of a one-hitter Saturday night in
the Houston Astros' 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

There were two outs in the ninth when Chris Duffy reached on an
error by second baseman Eric Bruntlett. Jack Wilson followed with a
single, and Buchholz was lifted for All-Star closer Brad Lidge
after 104 pitches.

"I feel bad that I took that away from him," Bruntlett said.
"I went and found him and asked him if he could forgive me."

Buchholz's response?

"No problem," he said. "I know he's a great infielder and he
won't usually make a mistake like that."

The 24-year-old rookie allowed only singles by Jeromy Burnitz in
the fifth inning and Wilson in the ninth. He struck out five and
walked none in his second career start and fourth appearance.

Buchholz said the win exceeded any visions he had of how he
would get his first win.

"I never would have expected (it) to be a two-hitter," he
said. "But it's definitely a great feeling to get that out of the
way. I'm on a high right now. I'm not going to lie, it's a great

Craig Biggio hit a solo homer off lefty John Grabow in the
seventh inning and scored all three runs.

Buchholz (1-1) retired his first nine batters before hitting
Duffy on the foot with a pitch in the fourth. But Wilson grounded
into a double play, and the right-hander kept cruising along.

With Buchholz bouncing in the dugout as he watched, Lidge struck
out Jason Bay on a 3-2 pitch for his seventh save in seven tries.

Lidge talked about his troubles with Bay, who homered against
him last season.

"I didn't want to pitch in this game," Lidge said. "I wasn't
expecting to. I felt a little emotion because Taylor had thrown
such a great game and I wanted to make sure I left everything out
there against Bay tonight. Fortunately I was able to get him."

Astros manager Phil Garner said he didn't consider leaving
Buchholz in with two runners on base.

"He had pitched too good of a game to have it slip away,"
Garner said. "So give it to the guy that's supposed to finish the
game out. He'll have a whole bunch more opportunities to finish
those kind of games out."

Morgan Ensberg had an RBI single in the first and Lance Berkman
added a sacrifice fly in the fifth after Biggio hit his 611th
career double. Biggio went 3-for-5, his fourth three-hit
performance in the last five games.

Ensberg's franchise-record streak of six straight games with a
home run ended as he went 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pirates starter Ian Snell (0-2) allowed six hits and two runs
with four strikeouts in six innings, giving him his first quality
start. It was a much better outing than his last game, when he gave
up six runs and six hits in five innings of a 7-3 loss to the
Chicago Cubs.

"It was a big game for me," Snell said. "Just to show myself
that I can be here, pitch to big league hitters, get them out and
throw my fastball and other pitches."

Pirates manager Jim Tracy said Snell would have lasted longer,
but he was forced to take him out because of a cramp in his calf.

"It was the best Snell has done," Tracy said. "I'm beginning
to see some progress from him. He threw enough breaking balls for
strikes. He had much better command of his fastball tonight."

Astros left fielder Preston Wilson remained in a batting slump,
going 0-for-4. But he made a diving catch on Craig Wilson's line
drive in the eighth inning.

Game notes
The win puts the Astros over .500 with an all-time record
of 3,509-3,508. ... Snell's only major league win came last season
when he allowed three hits in eight innings of a 7-0 win over Roger
Clemens and the Astros. ... Snell does not have a major league hit.
He went 0-for-2, which puts his career numbers at 0-for-14 with
three sacrifice bunts. ... Bay's streak of reaching base safely in
16 straight games ended as he went 0-for-4.