Braves
Astros
2 - 3 Final
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Backe, Biggio lift Astros over Braves

Sep 30, 2007 - 3:10 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) - Houston Astros righthander Brandon Backe pitched and hit, soon-to-be retiring Craig Biggio caught and hit and the Astros helped celebrate Biggio's farewell weekend Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Backe, making his fifth start since undergoing "Tommy John" surgery last September, pitched six innings and hit a solo homer.

Backe's homer wasn't a bargain-basement Minute Maid Park special. He hit a 3-2 pitch 371 feet to right center in the fifth inning that gave Houston a 3-1 lead.

It was the second homer in the majors for Backe, who began his pro career as a position player. He hit the other one in 2004.

Backe (3-1) allowed only four hits, struck out four and walked none.

"It was awesome," Backe said of pitching to Biggio, his favorite Astro growing up in nearby Galveston. "There's no other words to describe pitching to my childhood idol. It's unbelievable. I'm going to cherish this for the rest of my life."

Biggio, a former All-Star catcher, returned to that position for the first two innings of the game before going back to his normal position at second base.

"It was fun," Biggio said. "So many people had so many nice things to say just walking in from the bullpen. I had fun with the umpire (Mark Carlson) and the hitters a bit."

The plan was for Biggio to catch the first inning and maybe the second, depending on how he felt.

"He came in after the first inning and said, 'Let's do it again,' " Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "I'm sure it was tough on his legs. He did a nice job. We yelled at him once to frame a pitch. I can say I managed a Hall of Famer."

Backe said he did shake off Biggio a couple of times.

"He wanted to go inside with a lefthanded hitter and a runner on first base," Backe said. "I was pretty pumped (to pitch to him). I finished my routine in the bullpen eight minutes too quick."

Biggio, the Astros' regular catcher for his first three full seasons in the majors, didn't object to Backe shaking him off, particularly after Atlanta's Yunel Escobar opened the game with a double to left.

"I was just worried about catching the ball," Biggio said. "You lead off the game with a double and the last thing you want to do is have a passed ball and have the guy advance. I forgot what that side of the game was like, calling pitches, trying to set up the hitters. I was happy it went as well as it did."

Catcher Brad Ausmus played the first two innings at second, then traded places with Biggio after the inning.

Biggio, 41, playing his 20th and final season with the Astros, received a standing ovation before every at-bat. He doubled in the first inning and scored on Lance Berkman's 34th home run to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

"That's the best I've seen him throw the ball since the playoffs a couple of years ago," Berkman said of Backe.

"He was pretty sharp," Cooper said. "The one thing he has to do is command his fastball. He did that tonight. For the most part he was down in the zone. Hopefully that will be the Backe of 2008."

Backe said he is not 100 percent yet.

"With the rest in the offseason, my velocity may be a little better," he said.

Biggio also singled in the fifth inning, the 3,059th hit of his career.

"Today was hard walking out after the game with my boys," Biggio said of the emotions in his penultimate game. "I can't answer what tomorrow will be like."

Biggio was asked how he would like to be remembered by the fans.

"He played the game the right way, and I think they know that," he said. "Thanks for playing hard every day, running out every ground ball and fly ball. That's the way it was taught to me and the only way I knew."

"It will be tough to hold the tears back (Sunday)," Backe said.

Brad Lidge, the third Houston reliever, finished up in the ninth for his 19th save.

Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, chasing the National League batting title, went 1-for-3 with a single in the third inning before being rested by manager Bobby Cox.

Cox, missing the playoffs for the second straight year, won't be happy to see the season end.

"Don't tell me about it," he said. "I don't like the end whether you're winning or losing, even when when you get beat or win the World Series. It's the end and there's nowhere to go the next day."

The Braves scored a run in the second inning when Jeff Francoeur singled and raced to third on Brandon Jones' single to right. Francoeur scored when Brandon Jones grounded out to third to cut the Astros' lead to 2-1.

Francoeur doubled to lead off the seventh and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Willie Harris that cut the Houston lead to 3-2.

Atlanta starter Jeff Bennett (2-1), also coming back from "Tommy John" surgery, pitched six innings, giving up six hits and three runs. He struck out five and walked one.








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

    BATTERIES: ATL - JEFF BENNETT, RON MAHAY (7TH), PETER MOYLAN (7TH), MANNY
    ACOSTA (8TH) AND BRAYAN PENA
    HOU - BRANDON BACKE, DENNIS SARFATE (7TH), CHAD QUALLS
    (8TH), BRAD LIDG

    Sep 29 9:40 PM
  • 50
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 9:32 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY WILLIE HARRIS SCORED JEFF FRANCOEUR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B PENA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 2
    HOUSTON 3 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J BENNETT (.000, 0-FOR-2)

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 8:56 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY BRANDON BACKE (1) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF JEFF BENNETT.
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 1, HOUSTON 3
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: J ANDERSON (.361, 0-FOR-2)

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 8:27 PM
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    bbj9302 Added 5 roots

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 8:23 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY BRAYAN PENA SCORED JEFF FRANCOEUR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B JONES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 1
    HOUSTON 2 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: W HARRIS (.276, 2 HR, 31 RBI)

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 7:33 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY LANCE BERKMAN (34) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 1ST OFF JEFF BENNETT SCORED CRAIG BIGGIO.
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 0, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C LEE (.304, 32 HR, 117 RBI)

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 7:23 PM
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    jemurray Added 5 roots

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 29 10:42 AM
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    Bruins Added 5 roots

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 28 9:47 PM