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Biggio takes advantage at Coors, hits for cycle

4/9/2002

DENVER (AP) -- With a single, triple and home run in his first
three at-bats, Craig Biggio knew what needed to be done.

After being walked intentionally in his next plate appearance,
Biggio lined a two-run double down the left-field line, completing
the cycle and helping the Houston Astros spoil the Colorado
Rockies' home opener, 8-4 on Wednesday.

Biggio, who drove in four runs, put the Astros ahead 8-1 with
his double in the eighth.

"Well, you know what you need," Biggio said of his last
at-bat. "But the last thing you're trying to do is hit a double. I
was just trying to hit the ball hard. That's what I'm trying to do
every time up.

"It's a special day. It's a lucky day when something like that
happens. I caught a couple of breaks with the ball staying inside
the line (on his double and triple). It's kind of cool."

Lance Berkman hit his fourth home run of the season, a two-run
drive off Denny Neagle (1-1) in the third, and Roy Oswalt won his
second straight start, sending the Rockies to their fourth
consecutive loss.

Biggio, who entered the game hitting a team-low .174 (4-for-23)
with no RBI, went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, triple, two-run
double and single to raise his average to .296.

It was the first cycle of his 13-year career and the sixth in
Astros' history. Jeff Bagwell had the previous one, last July 18
against St. Louis.

"It's hard enough to get one hit, much less four," Astros
manager Jimy Williams said. "When you have a single, double,
triple and homer, that's pretty special. It doesn't happen very
often.

"It certainly came at the right time, because he drove in some
big runs for us. That's got to pick him up. It certainly picks us
all up as a team."

Oswalt (2-0) pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run
until Larry Walker hit a two-run homer with no outs in the eighth,
chasing Oswalt.

Todd Zeile broke up Oswalt's shutout bid with a solo homer in
the seventh.

The weak-hitting Rockies (2-5) have scored only 24 runs.

Neagle allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Colorado's Todd Helton, who has the highest career batting average
among active players (.334), snapped an 0-for-19 streak with a
single in the eighth. Helton is hitting .125.

"The pitching we've faced has been awful good," Rockies
manager Buddy Bell said. "The combination of their pitching and
the way we're swinging the bats is not a great combination.

"The big hit -- we didn't get it today."

Walker said the Rockies "ran into a good pitcher. Oswalt shut
our bats up. We made a run late, but unfortunately it wasn't good
enough. We're 2-5 after seven games. There's no panic buttons being
pushed. We just have to keep coming to the ballpark playing hard
every day and hopefully things will fall into place."

Richard Hidalgo hit a solo homer in the second, and the Astros
went ahead 4-0 in the third when Biggio tripled into the left-field
corner, Brad Ausmus blooped a single and Berkman homered to
left-center.

Brian Hunter singled leading off the fourth and scored on
Biggio's homer, which barely cleared the short wall in left.

Oswalt, 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA as a rookie last season, gave up
leadoff singles in the second, third and fifth but escaped damage.

Zeile, who opened the second with a single, was erased on a
double play. Gary Bennett was sacrificed to second base in the
third but later was put out in a rundown between second and third.
Todd Hollandsworth and Neagle had singles in the fifth, but Oswalt
retired Juan Pierre on a popout.

Game notes
The Rockies recalled RHP Chris Nichting from Triple-A
Colorado Springs and optioned INF Brent Butler to Colorado Springs.
... In a pregame ceremony, Walker received a Silver Bat for his NL
batting title in 2001, and Pierre received the Lou Brock Award for
leading the NL in steals. ... The win was the 699th for Astros
manager Jimy Williams. ... Oswalt beat Milwaukee 15-2 on Wednesday.