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Astros' Pettitte hurls first shutout in nearly four years

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Call it a throwback or even a renewal of sorts. Either way, Andy Pettitte's three-hit shutout Sunday is great news for the Houston Astros.

Pettitte shook off his early season woes and Morgan Ensberg and Lance Berkman both homered to lead the Astros to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies.

The shutout is Pettitte's first with Houston and his first since June 30, 2002, with the New York Yankees against the New York Mets. It was the left-hander's first complete game since Aug. 9, 2003, against Seattle.

"I think he's been throwing with better velocity this year, but his location hasn't always been as good," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "Today we saw the velocity and the location.

"I think this was the Andy Pettitte of old."

It's the fourth complete-game shutout of Pettitte's career and his 23rd complete game.

Pettitte, who went 17-9 last season with a career-best 2.39 ERA to help Houston reach its first World Series, lost four of his first five decisions this year and had said he didn't feel like himself.

"I don't expect to get shutouts, but that was nice to get," Pettitte said. "I just think I ought to have been doing better all this year than I have been."

The victory gives Houston a 2-1 series win over the Rockies after being swept in Colorado last week.

Pettitte (3-4) struck out seven and walked one. He zipped through the first two innings, retiring the first six batters he faced, including striking out the last two. Brad Hawpe got a single to open the third before Pettitte struck out the next two batters.

He had elbow surgery in 2004 and took a longer break this offseason to rest his arm.

"This is the best I've seen him with that velocity and that control," Garner said. "His arm strength is back. I think you're just going to see him get stronger and stronger."

Pettitte agreed and said past problems with his elbow have been "frustrating."

"I let it be known I didn't feel great last year," Pettitte said. "I'm just extremely happy that it feels good this year. No doubt my arm's stronger and my elbow's stronger, so everything's sharper."

Berkman helped out in the seventh inning when he turned an unassisted double play by stepping on first base to get Matt Holliday out and then running down Todd Helton.

Luis Gonzalez doubled in the fourth inning and Pettitte didn't allow another hit until a single by Choo Freeman with two outs in the eighth.

Berkman had a solo homer to left field in his first at-bat after sitting out a game with tightness in his hamstring. It was his 13th homer of the season. His 40 RBI this season are second in the majors to Albert Pujols.

Ensberg hit his 12th home run of the season and his second in seven at-bats on a shot that landed about three rows into the lower level of right field in the fourth.

Pettitte said inconsistency has been his biggest problem this season.

"I haven't been in the counts I've wanted," he said. "But I felt I got ahead a lot today and I was throwing my curve for strikes and my fastball to both sides of the plate. I was doing a lot of things I haven't been doing this year."

Preston Wilson singled and stole second base before scoring on a single to left field by Brad Ausmus in the fourth that extended Houston's lead to 3-0.

In his first career appearance against Houston, Jeff Francis (2-3) allowed six hits and three runs while striking out five in seven innings.

Even he enjoyed watching Pettitte's performance.

"He was awesome," Francis said. "It was my first time to see him. We have a pretty good offense and for him to shut us down today like he did shows a lot."

Sunday marked 40-year-old Craig Biggio's 2,600th career game, making him the first Astros player to reach the milestone. He is second behind Barry Bonds in games played by National League players since 1970. Biggio was 1-for-4.

Notes

  • Astros shortstop Adam Everett hasn't had an error this season. He is the only shortstop in the majors who has played more than 12 games at the position this season without committing an error.
  • Sunday's appearance against Houston leaves Washington as the only team Francis hasn't faced.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Houston's Andy Pettitte wins for the second time in three outings, striking out seven Rockies.  (AP)
Houston's Andy Pettitte wins for the second time in three outings, striking out seven Rockies. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

A. Pettitte
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 7
Houston

M. Ensberg
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Colorado Rockies
Jamey Carroll, SS4000001 .289
Luis Gonzalez, 2B4010010 .235
Todd Helton, 1B3000101 .306
Garrett Atkins, 3B3000012 .319
Matt Holliday, LF3000012 .298
Eli Marrero, C3000010 .267
Brad Hawpe, RF3010000 .331
Choo Freeman, CF3010021 .263
Jeff Francis, P2000011 .059
   a- Clint Barmes, PH1000001 .213
    David Cortes, P0000000 .000
Totals29030179 
a-grounded out for Francis in the 8th
Batting
2B - Luis Gonzalez (5, Pettitte)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Francis-Carroll-Helton
Colorado Rockies
Jeff Francis (L,2-3) 7633252 3.26
David Cortes 1000100 1.20
IBB - Everett by Jeff Francis
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Francis 111-70, David Cortes 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Francis 4-11, David Cortes 1-2
Batters Faced - Jeff Francis 28, David Cortes 4
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4010000 .292
Willy Taveras, CF4000011 .283
Lance Berkman, 1B3111000 .319
   a- Mike Lamb, PH-1B1000000 .394
Morgan Ensberg, 3B2111200 .281
Preston Wilson, LF4110012 .261
Jason Lane, RF3010011 .211
Brad Ausmus, C3011001 .333
Adam Everett, SS2000100 .233
Andy Pettitte, P3000022 .067
Totals29363357 
a-flied out for Berkman in the 8th
Batting
HR - Lance Berkman (13, Francis), Morgan Ensberg (12, Francis)
RBI - Lance Berkman (40), Morgan Ensberg (27), Brad Ausmus (10)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman (13), Brad Ausmus (4)
SB - Preston Wilson (3, 2nd base off Francis/Marrero), Brad Ausmus (3, 2nd base off Francis/Marrero)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Berkman
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte (W,3-4) 9300170 4.76
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 119-76
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 11-8
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 30
Game Information
Attendance - 37614
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Randy Marsh, Second Base - Angel Hernandez, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt