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Rookie Makes Start Count for San Diego

May 31, 1997|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — Will Cunnane was a big hit in his first major league start, pitching six strong innings and driving in three runs as the San Diego Padres defeated the Houston Astros, 9-2, Friday night.

Cunnane (3-1) held Houston hitless until the fourth inning, and only four batters got as far as second base. The 23-year-old right-hander left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh after limiting the Astros to three hits and a fourth-inning run. He struck out six and walked three.

"He threw strikes, he had a good curve, he did it all tonight," San Diego Manager Bruce Bochy said. "He even hit and ran the bases."

Steve Finley added a two-run homer for the Padres, who ended a five-game losing streak. Cunnane had a two-run triple in a five-run fourth and added a run-scoring single in the fifth.

Tim Worrell pitched the final three innings in relief of Cunnane for his first save.

"He reminds me a lot of [Texas'] Ken Hill," Houston outfielder James Mouton said of Cunnane. "He has that same kind of almost-sidearm motion that's deceiving because the ball gets to you a lot quicker than you think it will get there."

The Padres scored five runs in the fourth with the help of shoddy play by the Astros to pull ahead, 7-0. Chris Gomez singled with one out, and John Flaherty's potential double-play grounder was booted by second baseman Craig Biggio for an error and both runners were safe.

A passed ball by Brad Ausmus moved the runners up a base and Cunnane followed with a fly ball to right. The ball popped out of right fielder Thomas Howard's glove and Cunnane was credited with a two-run triple.

One out later, Tony Gwynn hit a run-scoring single off Chris Holt (5-4). Ramon Garcia replaced Holt and Finley hit the right-hander's second pitch over the right-field fence for this fifth home run.

Trey Beamon came in to run for Gwynn, who left because of a minor right hamstring strain. Gwynn, who had two hits, is batting .408 and is listed as day to day.

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