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Wigginton gets nod as leadoff man

Wigginton gets nod as leadoff man

ATLANTA -- Ty Wigginton doesn't exactly fit the description of a prototypical leadoff hitter, but when he saw his name at the top of Astros manager Cecil Cooper's lineup card on Saturday, he said he was up for the challenge.

"I'm excited," Wigginton said. "I loved leading off in college. I led off regularly my junior year -- at least 30, 40 games."

But that was 10 years ago, and since then, Wigginton had never started a game batting leadoff at any level of his professional career. In fact, he had only hit in the No. 1 spot once during a game, and that was nearly six years ago when he pinch-hit in the top of the sixth inning.

Cooper's decision to hit Wigginton leadoff was certainly unconventional, but the skipper had a strategy -- Wigginton, Mark Loretta and Lance Berkman all have very good on-base percentages against left-handed pitchers. So he put all three at the top of the order against Braves lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, with the hope they'd create some traffic for Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada.

"Four times a night, it's a chance to get some guys on in front of Carlos and Miguel," Cooper said. "Do it a couple times over the course of a night, and we have a chance to get four or five runs."

The Astros scored four runs within the first two innings on Saturday. Loretta reached on a walk in the first frame and scored on Lee's RBI single, and Tejada followed with a base hit, which scored Lee. In the second inning, Brad Ausmus singled and moved to second on pitcher Chris Sampson's bunt, and after Wigginton drew a walk, Loretta drove both in with a double to right-center.

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

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