Astros
Braves
6 - 1 Final
  for this game

Loretta sparks Astros past Braves

Jul 6, 2008 - 2:53 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Chris Sampson and Mark Loretta put an end to the Houston Astros' losing streak.

Loretta had three hits and drove in four runs and Sampson hurled five effective frames in a spot start for the injured Roy Oswalt to lead the Astros to a 6-1 win over the struggling Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.

Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada drove in a run each for Houston, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

"We're taking it one game at a time," Loretta said. "I thought Sampson set the tone with a great performance. It was a pretty good team effort tonight."

The Astros (41-47) started the season slowly and have struggled of late after catapulting themselves into a tie for second place on May 27. Since then, Houston has won just 11 of their last 35 en route to returning to the cellar in the weak National League Central Division.

The news did not get much better when the club announced that staff ace Oswalt would miss his scheduled start against Atlanta with a hip injury and got even worse on Saturday when they revealed that their three-time All-Star returned to Houston for further tests on his ailing left hip.

When the Astros needed someone to step up in their ace's place, Loretta and Sampson (4-3) delivered.

Loretta drew a one-out walk off Atlanta starter Jo-Jo Reyes (3-7) in the first inning before advancing to second on a groundout. Lee plated Loretta with a single before taking second on rookie Jason Perry's wild throw home. Tejada followed with a base hit, plating Lee for the two-run cushion.

"I'm sure (the early cushion) was big," Loretta said. "I'm sure it put (Sampson) at ease."

Houston put two more on the board in the second on Loretta's two-out double to give Houston a 4-0 lead. Loretta smashed his third double of the night off reliever Jeff Bennett with the bases loaded in the ninth, plating two to give Houston its final margin of victory.

"The first two doubles, I hit very well," said Loretta, who matched a career high with the three doubles. "It was a good night to hit a fly ball. The last one I just kind of fought off an inside fastball."

Loretta's heroics provided more than enough runs for the Sampson and the Houston bullpen as the Braves bats once again fell silent.

Sampson, who spent all of June in the bullpen, was effective in a spot start. He surrendered one run and two hits while striking out two without a walk over five frames en route to notching his first win since May 20.

"The only thing I wanted to show them is that any time they give me the ball, no matter what, I'll do the best I can," Sampson said. "Whatever role they give me, I can handle."

After issuing a single to Yunel Escobar in the first, Sampson retired 11 straight batters until Brian McCann blasted his 15th homer of the season into the right-center field bleachers. He departed after tossing 56 pitches.

"I knew I was going to have to be very efficient to last as long as I could in the game," Sampson said. "When I started the game, I said that I'd be happy to go at least five and I was able to do that."

"We just couldn't get anything rolling," McCann said. "We just didn't swing the bats. (Sampson) got in a groove. He's got good stuff. If he locates, he's going to be good. Tonight, he spotted up well."

Houston's bullpen picked up where Sampson left off. Tim Byrdak scattered two hits in the sixth and seventh, Doug Brocail hurled a scoreless eighth and Jose Valverde shut the door with a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation for the Astros.

"We didn't get many hits, period," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We had a couple of balls hit to the track and a couple of other balls hit hard. We just couldn't get anything going."

Reyes scattered four runs and six hits, walked three and struck out two in 4 2/3 innings for the Braves (41-47), who have lost six of their last seven games to fall seven games behind the first-place Phillies (48-40) in the National League East Division.

"The name of the game is scoring runs and we're just not doing it on a consistent basis," McCann said. "We need to start playing like it's October. We need to be on every pitch."








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

    BATTERIES: HOU - CHRIS SAMPSON, TIM BYRDAK (6TH), DOUG BROCAIL (8TH), JOSE
    VALVERDE (9TH) AND BRAD AUSMUS
    ATL - JO-JO REYES, MANNY ACOSTA (5TH), BUDDY CARLYLE
    (7TH), JEFF BEN

    Jul 5 9:43 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MARK LORETTA SCORED DAVID NEWHAN AND DARIN
    ERSTAD.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M LORETTA ON SECOND, T WIGGINTON ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 6
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.350, 0-FOR-4)

    Astros 6, Braves 1  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 5 9:31 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY BRIAN MCCANN (15) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF CHRIS SAMPSON.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 4, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: K JOHNSON (.278, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 4, Braves 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 5 8:32 PM
  • 30
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 25 roots

    Astros 4, Braves 0  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 5 8:31 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MARK LORETTA SCORED BRAD AUSMUS AND TY WIGGINTON.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M LORETTA ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 4
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.354, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 4, Braves 0  Top 2, 0 OutsJul 5 7:44 PM


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

    CURRENT PITCHERS: HOU - CHRIS SAMPSON
    ATL - JO-JO REYES

    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: G BLANCO (.271, 1 HR, 16 RBI)
    Y ESCOBAR (.290, 6 HR, 30 RBI)
    C JONES (.390, 17 HR, 48 RBI)

    Astros 2, Braves 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsJul 5 7:22 PM
  • 5
    roots
    jacook11 Added 5 roots

    Astros vs. BravesJul 5 2:56 PM