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Ausmus homers to lead Astros past Braves

Sep 29, 2008 - 12:27 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Brad Ausmus hit a two-run home run in his final game as an Astro to help Houston defeat the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, in the last game of the season Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Lefthander Wandy Rodriguez (9-7) pitched seven innings for the Astros, giving up just four singles and one unearned run. He also drove in a run with a single in the fifth inning. Rodriguez struck out six and walked none.



Ausmus, 39, hit the first pitch from Mike Hampton (3-4) to deep left for only his third home run of the season in the bottom of the second. He announced earlier that if he continues to play, he wants it to be nearer his home in San Diego.

"I was banking on my relationship, which has been long, with Mike Hampton," Ausmus said of his homer. "He's one of my favorite people in the game. I was banking on him giving me a courtesy, first-pitch fastball. I guess I guessed right. But he didn't do it for the second at-bat at all. I guess he figured one home run was enough."

The Astros paid a tribute to Ausmus on the big screen in center field before the game manager Cecil Cooper subbed for him after Ausmus warmed up the pitcher in the top of the sixth.

"I got a little choked up there when they played the video," Cooper said. "Brad's a special guy. I thought, as I came over and took over as manager, that he would be a problem. I don't know why, I just thought that. He's really sarcastic at times and it's really difficult to understand him sometimes. After dealing with him all year, he's a pro's pro."

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox also paid tribute to Ausmus.

"He's a professional, the way he played the game," Cox said. "I always admired the way he set up behind the plate. He could make an average staff a great one."

Hampton and Ausmus were teammates in Houston in 1997 and '98.

"I was trying to throw a fastball away and it didn't go over there," said Hampton, sounding less than convincing. "I hang out with him more than anybody in the game. We've got a pretty good friendship. The last time I faced him three years ago he got a double. He told me the last at-bat is the one everyone remembers. I made him look stupid on his last at-bat."

Other than the first pitch to Ausmus, Hampton pitched well, only giving up four hits and the three runs in six innings.

"I felt great," said the 36-year-old Hampton. "My slider's back. My sinker's back. I was really excited about my outing. I want to go somewhere and help someone win. I felt older than my age for three years. Now I'm back. Today was fun."

Cox appreciated Hampton's performance.

"Outstanding," he labeled it. "He gave up one ball hit really good. That was right down the middle to Ausmus. His stuff is good enough to win 15 games for us next year. He's got a young arm."

Cooper liked what he saw from Rodriguez.

"I've seen Wandy at what I think is his best," he said. "I've seen him really, really good. I know he's going to be a big part of what we do next year. He didn't have to go out and pitch the way he pitched today. It was a great job."

Atlanta's Chipper Jones pinch hit in the ninth and drew a walk from Houston closer Jose Valverde. Jones finished the season with a .364 average to win the National League batting title ahead of Albert Pujols of St. Louis.

"I knew (I would win the title) for the last four or five days since I wasn't playing," said Jones, who hadn't played since Sept. 21 because of inflammation in his right shoulder. "I had a couple of days to sit back and enjoy it. It's one of my crowning accomplishments. I feel I'm a better hitter than earlier in my career, even in '99 when I had a monster year."

Jones had to hold off a hot Pujols.

"(Pujols) made it interesting," Jones said. "It's hard not (to look at what he's doing). The man piles up hits like dirty laundry. I said a month ago, no matter who wins the batting title he's still the best hitter in the game."

Cox was pleased for Jones.

"He's that kind of hitter," Cox said. "That's one more notch into the Hall of Fame for him. He missed it last year by one point."

Atlanta scored its only run in the fifth when Brent Lillibridge beat out a ground ball to shortstop and went to second on Miguel Tejeda's wild throw to first. Lillibridge moved to third on a balk and scored on Corky Miller's ground out.

The Astros added another run in the fifth for a 3-1 lead. Ty Wigginton singled and pinch-runner Reggie Abercrombie stole second and went to third on an errant throw by catcher Miller. Abercrombie scored on Hernandez's two-out single.

Valverde pitched the ninth inning for Houston, collecting his 44th save of the season to tie the club record set by Billy Wagner in 2003.








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

    BATTERIES: ATL - MIKE HAMPTON, JEFF BENNETT (7TH), JULIAN TAVAREZ (8TH) AND
    CORKY MILLER, CLINT SAMMONS (8TH)
    HOU - WANDY RODRIGUEZ, LATROY HAWKINS (8TH), JOSE
    VALVERDE (9TH)

    Sep 28 4:26 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY WANDY RODRIGUEZ SCORED REGGIE ABERCROMBIE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W RODRIGUEZ ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 1
    HOUSTON 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: K MATSUI (.294, 0-FOR-2)

    Braves 1, Astros 3  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 28 3:16 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY CORKY MILLER SCORED BRENT LILLIBRIDGE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 1
    HOUSTON 2 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M HAMPTON (.217, 0-FOR-1)

    Braves 1, Astros 2  Top 5, 0 OutsSep 28 3:05 PM
  • 10
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Braves 0, Astros 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 28 2:47 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY BRAD AUSMUS (3) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 3RD OFF MIKE HAMPTON SCORED JOSE CASTILLO.
    CURRENT SCORE: ATLANTA 0, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.103, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Braves 0, Astros 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 28 2:44 PM
  • 5
    roots
    craftmafia Added 5 roots

    Braves vs. AstrosSep 22 1:01 AM