Hits Aplenty but Runs Scarce in Fish Loss

Marlins strand 16 in Houston loss

HOUSTON — Michael Bourn was the Houston Astros’ catalyst from his first at-bat against Florida on Wednesday night.

The leadoff man had three hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored in the Astros’ 6-3 win over the Marlins. Bourn also made a dazzling catch in center field, helping the Astros win for the third time in nine games.

“I’m proud of all of it,” said Bourn, who has 46 steals this season. “I went out there and tried to play my game and I was able to do that. I had an all-around good day.”

The Marlins reached 10 hits for the 15th straight game, matching the longest streak since the St. Louis Browns had one that long in 1937, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But Florida committed three errors and stranded 16 runners, both season highs.

“We got a lot of hits,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We just couldn’t touch that home plate.”

Humberto Quintero hit a solo homer, and Lance Berkman, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Tejada drove in runs for the Astros. Jose Valverde worked around a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for his 17th save in 21 chances.

The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Yorman Bazardo.

Chris Coghlan singled, went to second when Hanley Ramirez walked and scored on Jorge Cantu’s single. Dan Uggla drove in Ramirez with a single up the middle. Ramirez has scored a run in eight straight games, two shy of the franchise record.

Bourn led off the Houston first with a bunt single off Sean West (4-5). He stole second on West’s first pitch to Keppinger and took third when catcher John Baker’s errant throw skipped into center field.

“I felt like I got a good read on that lefty,” Bourn said. “Once I saw him lift his leg up, I just took off. I knew I had a pretty good jump and I made it.”

Bourn scored when Keppinger’s sharp grounder rolled between Cantu’s legs at third for an error.

Keppinger scored on Berkman’s double. Tejada then snapped out of an 0-for-19 drought with an RBI double to the left-field corner.

Quintero made it 4-2 in the fourth when he homered to left center, his second of the season.

Tim Byrdak relieved Bazardo in the fifth and walked Jeremy Hermida to load the bases with two outs. Gaby Sanchez pinch-hit for West, Sammy Gervacio (1-0) relieved and struck out Sanchez.

“That was huge for us,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. “That kept things on our side a little bit.”

Bourn led off the fifth with a single off Brian Sanches. He stole second and raced to third on another bad throw by Baker, Florida’s third error.

The Astros improved to 6-2 this season in games in which Bourn steals more than one base.

“Michael Bourn was huge, not only on the defensive side, but on the offensive side,” Cooper said. “He had some great at-bats.”

Jeff Fulchino started the sixth for Houston and Coghlan led off with a triple to the right-field corner. Ross Gload doubled to left to score Coghlan. Bourn then made a nice running catch against the bullpen fence in left center to rob Cantu of an extra-base hit.

“I didn’t think I could’ve dived because it was too close to the fence,” Bourn said. “I was able to get a good angle on it and I was able to get there.”

Pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio beat out a bunt with two outs in the seventh for Florida’s 10th hit. The Marlins are the fifth team in history to get at least 10 hits for 15 consecutive games, according to Elias. The record is 18 straight games, set by the Browns in 1922 and matched by the Cleveland Indians in 1925.

Jason Michaels led off the Houston seventh with a double off Renyel Pinto. Bourn tripled off the left-field scoreboard, then scored on Keppinger’s broken-bat single for a 6-3 lead.

Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a two-out single off LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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