HOUSTON (AP) -- Wandy Rodriguez made good use of his escape
Aided by home runs from Willy Taveras, Morgan Ensberg and Jason
Lane, Rodriguez pitched out of several jams over six-plus shaky
innings, and the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2
Friday night in the first game between the franchises.
The Astros made good use of their nine hits and won for the
ninth time in 14 games since ending a seven-game losing streak on
Rodriguez (2-2) gave up nine earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his
last start. He was better on Friday, allowing four hits, although
he walked six. He had three strikeouts.
"We don't preach six walks," Astros manager Phil Garner said.
"He did a good job of mixing up his pitches. Each time you go out
you learn if your fastball is missing, you use another pitch to get
them out. He did that."
Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
Rodriguez escaped the second inning by giving up one run after
he hit Shea Hillenbrand with a pitch and walked Aaron Hill to start
the inning. After a double play, Gregg Zaun's single scored
Hillenbrand for a 1-1 tie.
"He was effectively wild and then he'd settle down with men on
base and get us out," Toronto's Reed Johnson said.
Vernon Wells reached on an infield hit to start Toronto's fourth
but good defense saved Rodriguez. Ensberg started a double play on
a grounder by Hillenbrand and then second baseman Craig Biggio
dived to his left and threw out Frank Menechino to end the inning.
Rodriguez got himself out of trouble in the fifth after walking
the first two batters. He struck out Ted Lilly and Johnson and
Alexis Rios flied out. With the bases loaded and two outs in the
sixth, Rodriguez got John McDonald for the third out on a grounder
to first base.
"I used my change more tonight and located better," Rodriguez
said. "The manager asked me to focus on location and that's what I
worked on. In the sixth, I had the bases loaded and I got a change
over the plate and a grounder to first to get out of the inning."
Lilly (3-7), who has lost five of his last seven starts, was
behind quickly in the first inning. Taveras hit the first leadoff
homer of his career on the game's fifth pitch.
Taveras missing the last three games after straining his left
hamstring last Sunday.
Lilly went six innings, allowing seven hits and four earned
"I definitely made more than three mistakes," Lilly said.
"When you make mistakes it will eventually catch up to you. You
can only get away with that for a while. The last three games I've
started we've lost. I want to be a guy who can put up a good
quality start and may be dominate every once in a while."
Rodriguez singled in the second, the first RBI hit of his
career, as Houston went up 2-1. Jason Lane hit Lilly's second pitch
of the fourth inning for his seventh homer.
Ensberg homered off Lilly on the second pitch of the sixth
Wells' RBI single brought the Blue Jays within 4-2.
"We had opportunities with men on base but we didn't take
advantage of them," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He threw
a lot of off-speed stuff and was mixing it up. He used a changeup
and curve to keep us in check."
Hill, a rookie third baseman, is hitting .579 (11-for-19)
with runners in scoring position. ... The Blue Jays are 5-7 in
Lilly's starts. ... Houston's Roger Clemens won two of his Cy Young
awards while pitching for Toronto in 1997 and 1998. ... Lance
Berkman of the Astros has reached base in 25 of his last 27 games.
... Biggio needs four hits to reach 2,700 for his career. ... The
Astros recalled RHP Mike Burns from Triple-A Round Rock and
optioned outfielder Todd Self to the Express.