Astros benefit from Giants' wildness

Astros benefit from Giants' wildness

HOUSTON -- This breakout inning wasn't as dramatic as the power display from the night before, but still, it got the job done.

The Astros scored all six of their runs in the sixth inning, which involved a couple of hits but also a barrage of plunkings and walks that pushed the Astros to a 6-2 win over the Giants before 30,330 fans Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

"Opportunistic," manager Cecil Cooper said. "I'll take it."

The Astros sent 12 batters to the plate, but oddly enough, only two recorded base hits. Ty Wigginton led off with an infield single off Barry Zito, who walked Mark Loretta and yielded a bloop single to Miguel Tejada to load the bases.

From there, it was all about fly balls, free passes and hit batsmen. In other words, this rally could not have been more different than their eight-run seventh Tuesday that included two home runs, including a Lance Berkman grand slam.

"I loved it," Wigginton said of Wednesday's parade. "It didn't matter how we got it done, but we found a way, and that's the important thing. It wasn't the prettiest and it wasn't like we were driving balls or hitting the ball hard, but we found a way."

Berkman scored Wigginton with a walk, and Geoff Blum drove in Loretta with a sacrifice fly. Zito intentionally walked Hunter Pence to pitch to Reggie Abercrombie, who lifted a fly ball to center just deep enough to score Tejada.

Zito hit Humberto Quintero to load the bases and issued a walk to Randy Wolf, which scored Berkman. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called for Billy Sadler, who fared no better. He plunked Wigginton and Loretta, keeping the slow-moving merry-go-round the bases alive long enough for the Astros to mount a five-run lead.

Zito pinned his downfall on the walk to Loretta early in the inning.

"You can't do anything about bloop hits or infield hits," he said. "It's on me for walking Loretta. That was the difference-maker."

On walking Berkman: "I didn't want to give in to Berkman. I wasn't really concerned with that walk because as we saw last night he can make it four runs."

Three plunkings in one inning tied the modern-day Major League record for the 35th time.

"How many times have you seen that happen?" Cooper said of the inning in general. "That's why I say, opportunistic. That's what we've done lately. It seems like every time we get a chance to score some runs, [when] we're in a situation where we get an opportunity, we've been able to cash them in. It's a sign of a good team and a sign of a team that's playing well."

The win extended the Astros' streak to seven games and pushed them to two games over the .500 mark for the first time since June 6, when they were 32-30.

Wolf earned his second win as an Astro and improved to 8-10 on the year after holding the Giants to two runs over seven innings. He started the outing with four no-hit frames before yielding a leadoff hit to Fred Lewis in the fifth.

The Giants scored for the first time in the sixth frame, when Randy Winn doubled and scored on a Bengie Molina double. Winn knocked another double in the seventh and scored on Ryan Rohlinger's double, marking the rookie third baseman's first big league hit.

"I think my delivery's getting better each time out," Wolf said. "I think I'm definitely getting more comfortable with [Quintero catching]. That's always big; with the catcher and pitcher relationship, it's very important to be on the same page, and if we weren't, we talked about it right away and moved on."

The Astros are 4-0 in games Wolf has started. In two starts at Minute Maid Park, Wolf has yielded two runs over a combined 12 innings.

Wolf, a former Padre and soon-to-be free agent, said he was glad when he was traded to Houston, because he was anxious to shed the label of only finding success at the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park in San Diego.

"I think it was nice to come here," he said. "[Minute Maid Park] has a reputation of being a good hitters park, but I've always liked pitching here. For some reason, whether it's the background or the mound or those things, I've always enjoyed pitching here."

The Wolf-for-Chad Reineke trade sparked criticism from many who wondered why the Astros, seemingly non-contenders, gave up a prospect for a pitcher with a mediocre record who would likely leave via free agency this winter.

But in his short time in Houston, Wolf has provided innings, taken some of the burden off the bullpen and given the Astros quality outings.

"I've always been a big fan of Randy Wolf," Wigginton said. "Playing against him, you know what kind of competitor he is. Somehow, some way, he's always going to give the ballclub a chance to win the game. He's continued to do that here."

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