Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Houston Astros rocket out of the blocks

MLB ACTION As Craig Biggio knocked his 500th homer, his teammates joined in the fun to hit nine over the fence in the first inning, setting up a sizzling 11-2 win

AP , NEW YORK

Atlanta Braves' Brian Giles, right, looks back at Chicago Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek as Grudzielanek tried to force Giles out at second base on an infield hit by Darren Bragg in the eighth inning of their game in Chicago on Thursday. The Braves defeated the Cubs 13-3.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The Houston Astros' record-setting first inning was a mystery.

"If we knew what we were doing, we would do it every night," Craig Biggio said after the Astros scored nine runs for the biggest opening inning in franchise history.

Richard Hidalgo hit a three-run double in the inning and Houston went on to an 11-2 home victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Geoff Blum had two hits in the inning, including a two-run single. Jeff Bagwell, Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett added RBI singles as Houston chased Paul Wilson (5-6) before he got an out.

"They weren't crushing them, but after the opening error they were hitting them where they ain't," Reds manager Bob Boone said.

It was the Astros' most runs in any inning since they scored nine in the sixth at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8, 1999. Houston's biggest inning ever was a 12-run eighth against Philadelphia in May 1975.

"Scoring those nine runs in the first inning got contagious," manager Jimy Williams said. "Everybody was hitting."

Biggio added his 500th career double in the fourth inning, becoming the first Astros player to reach the milestone.

"When you play 15 years you are going to have some good things happen," Biggio said. "It was special to have it happen at home in front of the fans of the only organization I have ever played for. I still enjoy the game as much as I did when I started playing."

He's the 40th major leaguer to reach the mark.

Ron Villone (1-0) pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out two.

Ricky Stone got his first save of the season with three innings of hitless relief.

Pirates 5, Brewers 4

At Milwaukee, the Italian sausage made a sizzling comeback but Milwaukee's rally fell short as Pittsburgh's Aramis Ramirez hit a three-run homer.

Pirates first baseman Randall Simon did not play hours after being cited for disorderly conduct and fined US$432 for hitting one of the Brewers' popular racing sausages on Wednesday night at Miller Park. Prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges.

Simon's chop caused the 19-year-old woman in the Italian sausage costume to tumble, and knock over the woman in the hot dog outfit. Both were treated for scraped knees.

On Thursday, Pirates players moved into the dugout and away from the field as the sausage racers -- an oversized bratwurst, hot dog and Italian and Polish sausages -- ran past them along the infield warning track between the sixth and seventh innings.

Jeff Suppan (8-7) pitched a complete game with nine strikeouts.

Keith Ginter hit two solo homers for Milwaukee.

Braves 13, Cubs 3

At Chicago, Vinny Castilla homered and drove in four runs as Atlanta extended its season-high winning streak to seven.

Greg Maddux (7-8) pitched six solid innings, and the Braves broke open the game with three runs in the sixth and five more in the eighth.

Shawn Estes (6-8) gave up six runs on six hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Padres 14, Diamondbacks 2

At Phoenix, Sean Burroughs hit a three-run homer, doubled twice and scored three runs as San Diego ended Arizona's 11-game home winning streak.

Mark Kotsay, Mark Loretta and pitcher Kevin Jarvis (2-2) each drove in two runs for the Padres, who snapped Arizona's four-game winning streak. San Diego won for the ninth time in 12 games.

Before the game, Arizona announced right-hander Curt Schilling will start Saturday against San Francisco. Schilling has been on the disabled list with a broken hand since May 31.

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