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Saarloos Leads Astros Over the Cubs, 3-2

July 21, 2002|From Associated Press

The bases were loaded, the Houston Astros were clinging to a one-run lead and Sammy Sosa was at the plate with the full house at Wrigley Field cheering him on.

Welcome back to the majors, Kirk Saarloos.

But the rookie, recalled from triple-A New Orleans on Friday, didn't falter. He retired Sosa on a groundout and went on to his first major league victory as Houston beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, Saturday.

"He was pitching very well today. I'm very impressed, because he's got a great changeup," Sosa said. "He got in a few situations and he made good pitches. He didn't make many mistakes."

Saarloos (1-2), a former Cal State Fullerton pitcher, gave up one run and four hits in five innings, striking out seven. He did not walk a batter.

Julio Lugo homered and Geoff Blum drove in two runs for the Astros. Billy Wagner struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 18th save.

"I felt a lot more at ease," Saarloos said of his second stint with the Astros. "I came into the clubhouse, I knew the faces and they were accepting of me. I was a lot more confident, more at ease mentally."

Carlos Zambrano (2-2) struck out a career-high 10, but it wasn't enough as the Cubs stranded seven--including the tying run at third in the eighth.

Pittsburgh 15, St. Louis 6--Adam Hyzdu hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in seven runs at Pittsburgh, giving him 11 runs batted in in two games.

Hyzdu, a 30-year-old outfielder who had more than 4,000 at-bats in the minors before reaching the majors briefly in 2000, had a three-run shot in a five-run first inning against Travis Smith (3-1).

Hyzdu, who had only seven career homers before the series, added another three-run drive in the fifth against reliever Dave Veres, who has given up two game-winning homers and eight runs in his last three appearances.

Before the game, the Cardinals demoted pitcher Bud Smith to triple-A Memphis to make room on the roster for Chuck Finley.

Atlanta 4, Philadelphia 3--Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones each drove in two runs, and John Smoltz converted his franchise-record 22nd consecutive save at Philadelphia.

Julio Franco had two hits and scored twice for the Braves, who have won five in a row and 22 of their last 28.

Colorado 6, Milwaukee 5--Todd Hollandsworth homered for the second consecutive game at Denver, and Denny Stark made his second strong start since joining the rotation.

Larry Walker had two doubles and two RBIs for Colorado, which has won three in a row and five of seven.

New York 8, Cincinnati 7--Mo Vaughn hit a three-run homer at Cincinnati and the Mets got solo shots from Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo for the second consecutive game.

Florida 3, Montreal 0--Brad Penny pitched six innings to win for the first time in nearly three months and Mike Lowell homered to lead the Marlins at Miami.

The Expos, hopeful that the recent acquisitions of pitcher Bartolo Colon and outfielder Cliff Floyd would spark a run toward a wild-card spot, committed three errors en route to their seventh loss in 10 games since the All-Star break.

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