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Paronto looks to stick with Astros' 'pen

Paronto looks to stick with Astros' 'pen

LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Chad Paronto joined the Astros on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, hoping to make enough of a favorable impression to hang around for a while.

The Astros purchased Paronto's contract Friday when right-hander Chris Sampson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with muscle spasms in his right shoulder. He has spent the entire season at Triple-A Round Rock but pitched in six games for the Astros last year.

"Very glad to be here," Paronto said. "Obviously, the only reason I play is to be here [in the Majors], so we'll see what happens. I'll take the ball whenever they give it to me. I'm going to try to pitch well and make a tough decision when it comes to decision-making time."

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Paronto, 33, was serving as the closer at Round Rock, going 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 15 saves in 27 relief appearances.

"He was throwing the ball very well," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "He was using his sinker and he's always had pretty good command. He's been primarily a one-inning [pitcher] down there, and we know he can pitch more than one because he did that for us last year."

Paronto obviously won't serve in the closer role for the Astros, who likely will use him to get to the back of the bullpen. Cooper would even like to get Paronto stretched out like he did last year when Paronto worked four innings in relief July 7 at Pittsburgh, which tied for the longest relief outing by an Astros pitcher in 2008.

If Paronto pitches well, he can take comfort in knowing the Astros could opt to keep him around. Jeff Fulchino and Alberto Arias, neither of whom were in the bullpen to start the season, both earned spots by putting up zeros.

"I think our bullpen is appreciably better today than it was a year ago when we were playing our best baseball because I think the fact Arias and Fulchino have come up and done what we've asked," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "Sampson has settled into the role he's in and gives us a deep bullpen and some strength."

Sampson had been working primarily in the seventh inning, with LaTroy Hawkins serving as setup man and Jose Valverde closing, before he got injured. Arias will get most of Sampson's innings while he tries to get healthy.

While in Round Rock, Paronto said he never paid attention to the comings and goings of the Astros' bullpen.

"I don't pay attention to it all, to be honest with you," he said. "I just don't really pay attention because I don't have any say over any of it."

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Russ Ortiz (3-4, 4.44 ERA)
Ortiz made headlines when he criticized Cooper for taking him out of his final start of the first half on July 9 against the Nationals after only three innings for no reason. Ortiz had given up six hits and four runs and has since patched things up with his manager. He's 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 10 starts this year, picking up his first win of the season against the Dodgers on April 21 by allowing three hits and three runs in five innings. He's 9-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) against the Dodgers, including 6-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) at Dodger Stadium.

LAD: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (3-5, 4.67 ERA)
Kuroda had a rough time out in his last start, giving up four earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Kuroda has been spectacular in his two career starts against the Astros, with an ERA of 0.66 and 1-0 record.

Tidbits
Second baseman Kaz Matsui entered Saturday with four consecutive multihit games. ... The Astros are the only National League team with three outfielders in the top 10 in assists: Hunter Pence (seven), Michael Bourn (eight) and Carlos Lee (six). ... Bourn is hitting .236 in July prior to Saturday. ... Third baseman Geoff Blum is the first Astros player with three walk-off hits in the same season since Morgan Ensberg in 2005.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-H HD

On radio
• KTRH 740, KLAT 1010 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 6-5, 5.08) vs. Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 4-5, 4.26), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 9-6, 2.81) vs. Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 7-7, 5.56), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Astros (Roy Oswalt, 6-4, 3.65) vs. Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 8-3, 2.26), 7:05 p.m. CT

Brian McTaggart 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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