HOUSTON -- After he labored through almost 60 pitches in the first two innings against the Houston Astros on Monday night it was difficult to imagine Cesar Valdez would stick around long enough to earn a win in his major league debut.
But the right-hander settled down after that shaky start to get the victory in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 9-1 rout of the slumping Astros.Chris Snyder hit a long three-run homer and Chris Young had three hits and drove in three runs for the Diamondbacks, who snapped a three-game skid and sent Houston to its seventh straight defeat.Valdez (1-0) was called up from Triple-A Reno on Monday and allowed one run in five innings. He gave up five hits and walked three."I was impressed how he was able to hold it together, especially those first two innings," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "They made him work. He threw a lot of pitches in the first, minimized damage with the double play, collected himself and went out and got into trouble again and got through it."Keeping us there was probably the best thing he could have done to get his confidence going, get his rhythm going, let him know that he belongs here and he can get some outs."Hinch was impressed with the work of both Snyder, whose two-out shot in the fourth gave Arizona a 4-1 lead, and Young, who are both from Houston."I told [them] both, it's their town," Hinch said. "So they can carry us through this four-game series if they feel up for it. Those of us from Oklahoma don't brag too much about Texas, but I like my Texas boys tonight."Houston starter Felipe Paulino (0-4) yielded five hits and four runs in six innings. He thought he did OK except for the home run by Snyder."It was pretty bad location," Paulino said. "It was the only bad mistake I made all night, and they made me pay. This is the major leagues, and you can't make a mistake like that."Paulino didn't get much help from his offense. The punchless Astros have scored more than two runs only once during their current losing streak."The guys are starting to put better at-bats together, and the hits, those big hits are going to come," manager Brad Mills said. "We're just going through a tough time right now where it is tough to do too much."Arizona's Adam LaRoche hit a long fly to right-center in the sixth, but was denied a hit thanks to a nifty leaping catch by Michael Bourn. The speedy center fielder chased down the ball and jumped to snag it before crashing back first into the wall of the bullpen.A double by LaRoche drove in the last of three runs in the eighth inning to stretch the lead to 9-1.Cory Sullivan singled off Valdez with two outs in the third before the rookie retired seven of the next eight batters. He was up to 100 pitches by then and was replaced by Esmerling Vasquez for the sixth.Vasquez gave up one hit in two scoreless innings.Valdez got off to a rocky start, walking Bourn before he scored on a double by Carlos Lee with one out in the first. Valdez walked Lance Berkman but got out of the inning when Pedro Feliz grounded into a double play.Valdez walked Tommy Manzella with one out in the second and gave up a single to Humberto Quintero before plunking Paulino to load the bases. The 25-year-old, who was 1-1 in four starts this season in the minors, pitched out of that jam by retiring the next two batters."It feels so exciting, my first big league start," Valdez said. "The first two innings, I [felt] a little nervous, but after that I [felt] good. Your first time you feel so nervous, just nervous."The Diamondbacks tied it at 1 in the second when a double by Young scored Mark Reynolds. Young drove in two more runs with a single in the seventh that made it 6-1.
Houston made several roster moves after the game. LHP Tim Byrdak was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. RHP Sammy Gervacio was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, RHP Wilton Lopez was recalled and LHP Gustavo Chacin's contract was purchased from Round Rock. ... Monday was the start of a seven-game homestand for the Astros. ... The Diamondbacks have homered in six straight games.