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Pence continues to batter Giants' pitchers

May 17, 2007 - 4:18 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Hunter Pence is no run-of-the-mill rookie.

Pence went 4-for-4, including a go-ahead homer in the fourth inning, and Chris Sampson pitched six strong innings as the Houston Astros kept rolling Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

The bullpen retired all nine batters faced for the Astros (20-19), who have won four straight and moved over .500 for the first time since April 22.

Pence launched his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left field off Giants starter Noah Lowry (4-4) to snap a 1-1 tie. The righthanded slugger also singled in the second, sixth and eighth frames, extending his streak of reaching base to eight straight plate appearances - including seven consecutive hits.

"I've been getting more comfortable," he said. "When I dreamed of the big leagues, how can I play in front of that many people? But it keeps the adrenaline going."

Pence, who entered the game leading all National League rookies in hitting (.313) and slugging (.603), was 3-for-3 with a homer in Tuesday's triumph. With his 4-for-4 effort in this one, the outfielder has reached base in 13 of his 16 major league starts. He is batting .355 with 15 RBI.

"He's certainly getting hits, doing a nice job," said Houston manager Phil Garner, purposely trying to low-key Pence's contributions. "He won the ball game tonight. He's in a good hitting mood right now. His bat stays in the zone. He's seeing the ball and getting a good rip at it. I'm afraid we're going to get into a frenzy and the expectations are going to be unattainable."

The 24-year-old had his contract purchased on April 27 from Class AAA Round Rock, where he hit .341 with three homers and 19 RBI in 27 games. He was a Class AA Texas League All-Star in 2006, hitting .283 with 28 homers and 95 RBI for Corpus Christi.

Pence said he went up looking for a changeup when he hit the first from Lowery for the homer in his second at-bat.

"I had a weird feeling," Pence said. "That's the first time all season I've gone up to the plate looking for one pitch. I told myself if he throws me a first pitch changeup, I'm sitting on it. He happened to throw it. Sometimes I have those feelings, then I get mad at myself."

Sampson (4-3) yielded a run and seven hits in six innings, walking one and striking out three to snap a personal two-game losing streak. The 28-year-old surrendered his lone run in the first on a one-out double by Ryan Klesko, but after a walk to Barry Bonds, he got Ray Durham to ground into a double play, ending the inning.

"The first couple of batters he was flat," Garner said of Sampson. "His ball wasn't sinking. A couple of pitches into Bonds (at-bat in the first) he started throwing better."

Sampson's wife, Heather, gave birth to their first child, a son, Christopher James (C.J.) Tuesday night at 8:15.

"You're a little too amped," Sampson said of his first inning. "I stepped behind the mound and said, 'Slow the game down and stop going 150 miles an hour.' (Tuesday) was an unbelievable experience. I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life.

Dan Wheeler came in and gave me the game ball for getting the first win being a Daddy."

Sampson said he got to sleep about midnight, but when his newborn son had to get up for a feeding around 3 or 4 a.m. he woke up Dad.

"He started crying a little bit, so I woke up, but went right back to sleep and woke up about 8 o'clock," Sampson said. "I'm going to sleep good tonight, if the little guy will cooperate."

After allowing one-out singles by Bonds and Durham in the sixth, Sampson retired Bengie Molina and Pedro Feliz to escape the jam and turned the game over to the bullpen.

Brad Lidge worked a perfect seventh, lefthander Trever Miller pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Dan Wheeler retired all three batters he faced in the ninth for his ninth save in 10 games.

"We're all feeling good down there right now," Lidge said of the bullpen. "He went through a tough time last year and even worse to start this season, losing his job as closer to Wheeler.

"I'm feeling great right now," he said. "I had no doubt I would have a good year."

Miller had the toughest part of the relievers, but retired Fred Lewis, Ryan Klesko and Barry Bonds in order, getting Bonds to pop out to shortstop.

"That's what I've been doing for quite a while," Miller said of retiring tough lefthanded hitters.

Lowry pitched well in defeat, yielding two runs and eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts in eight innings.

"What a great effort," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Lowry.

"That's a tough one for him to lose. He did all he could. We just got shut down."

"I felt pretty good," Lowry said. "That was big (a complete game). I thought after Ausmus (walked in the sixth to load the bases), I was done, but they gave me the opportunity to go out and win that ballgame. That's something I appreciated."

Bonds, who entered 10 shy of matching Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs, was 1-for-3 with a walk.

"He's not locked in right now," Bochy said. "It's not the first time Barry's gone through a little skid. He'll come out of it."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    SAN FRANCISCO 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 1
    HOUSTON 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 x 2 8 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: SFO - NOAH LOWRY AND BENGIE MOLINA
    HOU - CHRIS SAMPSON, BRAD LIDGE (7TH), TREVER MILLER
    (8TH), DAN WHEELER (9TH) AND BRAD AUSMUS

    HOME RUNS: SFO - NONE
    HOU - HUNTER

    May 16 10:33 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots

    Giants vs. AstrosMay 16 10:26 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY HUNTER PENCE (4) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    4TH OFF NOAH LOWRY.
    CURRENT SCORE: SAN FRANCISCO 1, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: A EVERETT (.198, 0-FOR-1)

    Giants vs. AstrosMay 16 9:04 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MARK LORETTA SCORED BRAD AUSMUS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M LORETTA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: SAN FRANCISCO 1
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.273, 0-FOR-1)

    Giants vs. AstrosMay 16 8:50 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    SAN FRANCISCO 1 1 2 0
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: SFO - NOAH LOWRY
    HOU - CHRIS SAMPSON

    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C BIGGIO (.248, 3 HR, 15 RBI)
    M LORETTA (.355, 0 HR, 9 RBI)
    L BERKMAN (.275, 5 HR, 21 RBI)

    Giants vs. AstrosMay 16 8:15 PM