Saturday, August 24, 2002

Astros pitcher rewards manager's faith

The Associated Press

        HOUSTON — Pete Munro found out another reason he likes playing for manager Jimy Williams. Munro (4-2) had an admittedly shaky game but still managed to last five innings and help the Houston Astros beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 Friday night.

        The Astros right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits and will remember facing Ken Griffey, who went 4-for-4, in the fifth inning more than anything.

        The Reds had scored two runs to pull within 4-3 and Griffey singled in another run to tie the game. Munro was just surprised he was still on the mound with lefty specialist Pedro Borbon fresh in the bullpen.

        “I was thinking about (being pulled),” Munro said. “I knew Borbon was there and I knew I had to do something.”

        After Griffey tied the score, Munro got Austin Kearns to ground out to end the inning. The Astros then scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to give Munro the win.

        Williams said he thought Munro deserved the chance to get the victory.

        “Pete has really given us something extra this season,” Williams said. “He's given it to us in relief and starting. He never complains no matter what we ask him to do.

        “I just thought I've got to try and reward the pitcher a little bit and leave him in. He earned that opportunity. I like the way he goes at hitters. He's very competitive and just an outstanding teammate.”

        Munro wasn't surprised to hear Williams' praise.

        “That's Jimy,” Munro said. “He's an old-school guy. That's why I love playing for him. He gives you a chance to prove yourself.”

        Billy Wagner, who pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 35 opportunities, agreed with Munro.

        “It was great to see Jimy leave him in there in that situation,” Wagner said. “To me, that shows Munro how much confidence they have in him.

        “Pete's a scrappy guy who goes out and gives you all he has. He kept us in the game tonight and that's all you can ask of anybody.”

        Wagner struck out two and his fastball registered 100 mph on the scoreboard gun several times.

        “How many guys do you see in baseball who can do that?” Williams asked. “He had multiple hundreds up on the board. He felt strong to say the least.”

        Actually, Wagner said he didn't feel that strong.

        “Those radar gun numbers don't mean much to me,” said Wagner. “If I throw it 100 and they hit a home run, the speed doesn't mean much.

        “I didn't feel especially strong. I felt normal. It was just one of those nights when the hitters didn't see me that well. My job is to get three outs and that's just the way I do it.”

        Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett hit consecutive RBI doubles in the fifth to give the Astros the win. Brian Hunter added two RBIs as the Astros won their third straight and moved a season-high eight games above .500.

        With the score tied at 4 in the fifth, Jeff Bagwell led off with a double. Reds starter Shawn Estes retired the next two batters before Ausmus broke the tie with a double to right-center and Everett followed with a run-scoring double to left.

        Notes: Bagwell stretched his season-high hitting streak to 14 games with a double in the fifth. ... Reliever Tom Gordon, who came over in a trade with the Cubs on Thursday, made his first appearance with the Astros. He pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings.


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