Astros suffer fourth straight loss

HOUSTON (AP) -- Kirk Rueter had his glove as much as his arm to thank after becoming the winningest left-hander in San Francisco Giants history.

Rueter (2-2) threw seven strong innings to lead the Giants to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

It was his 105th win as a Giant, the third most in San Francisco history behind Juan Marichal (238) and Gaylord Perry (134). Rueter, who allowed one run and six hits, had been tied with fellow lefty Mike McCormack at 104 victories.

For the third time this season, Rueter didn't record a strikeout but benefited from two double plays.

One of those came in the second inning when Rueter appeared to be in trouble.

Houston had the bases loaded with no outs, but after Adam Everett singled to drive in one run, Rueter got Raul Chavez to
bounce back to him to start an easy 1-2-3 double play.

"He fields his position as well as any pitcher around," catcher Mike Matheny said. "He's been around enough to know when situations are tough, you have to make good pitches and be ready to field."

Manager Felipe Alou, who got his 900th career win, praised Rueter.

"He threw a great game," Alou said. "I had no plans to take him out but he said his back stiffened a little after the seventh.

"He's a very active fielder. He does a good job of getting them to hit it down and he's ready to field," he said.

Rueter was ready to field at least one hitter earlier.

"Matheny told me Everett was a guy who might hit it right back at me," Rueter said. "He didn't, but the next guy did and I was ready. I just tried to get it back to Mike as quickly as I could. It was a rough inning but Mike stayed with me and helped me through it."

Tyler Walker pitched the ninth for his third save in four opportunities.

Ezequiel Astacio (0-2) started and went five innings, allowing two runs, one earned, and three hits for the Astros, who have lost four straight and 10 of 11.

Manager Phil Garner pointed to the Astros' eight hits.

"Tonight I thought we took some good approaches at the plate," Garner said. "We did a pretty good job against a guy who's tough to hit against. We just couldn't get the big hits when we needed to.

"We need something that will break us open, whether it's scoring a lot of runs in one game or three runs in the ninth inning," he said.

The losing is wearing on the Astros.

"It's definitely unbelievable," Everett said. "I don't really understand it. We just haven't got much going, but it's going to turn around. Obviously, Raul doesn't want to ground into a double play but that's the way it's been going for us."

Alou has a 900-866 won-loss record in 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos and Giants. He becomes the ninth active manager with 900 victories.

With the bases loaded in the first inning, Edgardo Alfonzo drove in one run when he grounded into the hole and Everett threw to first baseman Jose Vizcaino, who attempted to tag Alfonzo. The ball popped out and a second run scored on Vizcaino's error.

Everett's bases-loaded single in the second made it 2-1.

Leading off the eighth inning, pinch-hitter Jason Ellison hit an 0-2 pitch from reliever Chad Qualls to make it 3-1, and Marquis Grissom's single to center drove in another run in the inning to make it 4-1.

Orlando Palmeiro had an RBI single in the eighth for Houston.

Game notes
Houston's Eric Bruntlett flied out in the fifth to drop to 0-for-13 this season, the most at-bats without a hit in the majors this year. ... Giants are 17-3 all-time at Minute Maid Park. ... Ellison's home run was the first of his career as a pinch-hitter and the first pinch-hit homer this season for the Giants.