Notes: Biggio inching toward milestone

Notes: Biggio inching toward milestone

PITTSBURGH -- Craig Biggio has most of the baseballs from various milestones he's reached over the years, including the nice round numbers -- 2,700, 2,800, 2,900 -- as he marches toward 3,000 hits.

But the second baseman did not realize he had passed the 2,950 mark with his three-hit game Wednesday night, which put his career total at 2,951 and leaves him 49 short of the coveted 3,000 milestone.

"We're paddling," he said. "The oars are in the water, and we're paddling."

Biggio was rather proud of his triple, however, noting his last one was "probably three years ago." Actually, he had one in 2005, but none in '06.

Biggio reached third Wednesday night when he knocked a hard liner and right fielder Brad Eldred dove and missed the ball, which skidded to the wall in right-center. Biggio admitted thinking he had a shot at an inside-the-park home run.

"I was hoping the center fielder fell and tripped over his shoelace or something so I had a chance for an inside-the-parker, because I've never had one," Biggio said. "Never came close. That was the closest I've ever come, right here."

Randolph promoted: When manager Phil Garner sent Stephen Randolph to Minor League camp during Spring Training, he told the left-hander if he cuts down on the walks, he'll have a shot at the big leagues.

Randolph, 33, responded with 12 1/3 stellar innings, walking one and striking out 18 while allowing only one earned run. He was called up to replace Rick White, who strained an oblique muscle warming up during Wednesday's game.

Garner said Randolph will be used early in games.

"We like his arm," Garner said. "Take a look at his career. He's had a history of just walking guys. We sent him out and said, 'The only difference between you and being a big-league pitcher is just getting the ball over the plate, being aggressive.'

"He's done what we asked him to do. We had this opportunity and he deserves to get called up."

In 95 career big-league appearances with Arizona from 2003-04, Randolph was 10-6 with a 4.89 ERA and limited opponents to a .232 batting average.

Randolph faced one batter on Thursday, striking out Nate McLouth in the eighth inning.

What if ... Carlos Lee took a tumble while sliding into second base in the 14th inning Wednesday night, providing a scary moment for the Astros, who had no more position players on the bench.

Lee stayed in the game, but had he come out, Garner was prepared to insert Roy Oswalt as the pinch-runner. Oswalt would have played first base the next inning, with Lance Berkman moving to left field.

"Roy was ready," Garner said.

Playing time: Garner was leaning toward resting Berkman on Thursday, until he looked at the first baseman's numbers against Pirates starting pitcher Tony Armas.

Entering the game, Berkman had six hits in nine at-bats against Armas, including a triple and two homers. He'd also drawn four walks off the Bucs' right-hander.

"Berkman's had good success against this guy," Garner said. "I probably would have taken him off today. He must see this guy pretty well. Hopefully, something like this will help him, I don't know."

Entering Thursday's finale at PNC Park, Berkman was hitting .214.

Game ball: Matt Albers was in no mood to celebrate his first Major League hit after Wednesday's marathon 16-inning loss, but he did sound somewhat pleased Thursday that assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones kept the ball and handed it to him when the game ended.

"I guess I'll hold onto it," Albers said. "It's good to have."

Of course, Albers would prefer to add a different baseball to his collection -- the game ball from his first victory, which he is still waiting for.

Albers has received no-decisions in both of his starts this year, and last year he was 0-2 over four games, including two starts.

While he wasn't overly excited about his first hit, he promised to show much more enthusiasm when he finally logs his first big-league win.

"Definitely," he said.

Going golfing: Several Astros will spend Monday's off-day on the greens in the Tommy Bahama Island Cowboy Classic to benefit the Astros in Action Foundation.

The tournament will be held at the Palmer Golf Course in The Woodlands. Play begins at noon CT with a shotgun start, followed by a dinner celebration with silent and live auctions at 6:00 p.m.

Current and former players, coaches and members of the front-office staff who are scheduled to be in attendance include Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Bass, Dave Borkowski, Enos Cabell, Jim Deshaies, Larry Dierker, Brett Dolan, Phil Garner, Dave Gottfried, Rex Jones, Dave Labossiere, Nathan Lucero, Jason Lane, Tim Purpura, Chad Qualls, Terry Puhl, Dave Raymond and Dan Wheeler.

Entry into the Island Cowboy Classic begins at $300 per person ($1,200 per foursome) and includes a playing spot in the tournament for one round of golf and a cart, lunch at the tournament, a player appreciation package and admission to the tournament awards dinner.

For more information about the Tommy Bahama Island Cowboy Classic, please call (281) 292-8669.

Odds and ends: Several Astros spent the hours leading up to Thursday's early game watching the Game Show Channel. They were glued to a 1980's episode of "Press Your Luck," as several players, including Brandon Backe and Chad Qualls, shouted "No whammies!" at the TV. ... Thursday's game ended a stretch of 13 of 15 played on the road. ... Biggio's triple Wednesday was the first by an Astros player this season. The second baseman ranks 30th on the all-time hit list and is four from tying Willie Keeler, who has 2,955 hits.

Coming up: The Astros return to Houston for a six-game homestand against the Brewers and Reds, beginning Friday with the first of three against Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.34 ERA) will face Brewers lefty Chris Capuano (3-0, 3.68 ERA).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.