Atlanta at Houston

Scoreboard
Atlanta (84-78)000000000040
Houston (73-89) «30000000x370

Retiring Biggio given hero's exit as Astros top Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio didn't know when the tears would come on Sunday. Turns out all it took was hearing his children's voices.

The retiring Biggio doubled and scored in the first inning of his final game as the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0 before a record crowd at Minute Maid Park.

The 41-year-old Biggio, who played his entire 20-season career in Houston, received standing ovations every time he batted. He fought off his emotions throughout the game, but lost it a few times in the dugout between innings, when personal messages from his three children -- 14-year-old Conor, 12-year-old Cavan and 8-year-old Quinn -- were played on the giant scoreboard.

"If you're older, you cry all the time and there's nothing wrong with it," he said. "But it's a good emotion. It's a good cry, a healthy cry."

Biggio became the 27th player to reach 3,000 hits on June 28 and announced his retirement a month later. He will leave as the franchise's all-time leader in games, at-bats, hits, doubles and total bases.

He finished with 3,060 career hits and will finish 20th on the all-time list, just behind Cap Anson (3,081). Of the 19 players ahead of him, only Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame.

Chipper Jones, who came into the game trailing Matt Holliday by one point in the batting race, went 0-for-3 to fall to .337. Holliday went 1-for-3 in Denver, as the Rockies beat Arizona 4-3 to force a one-game tiebreaker with San Diego on Monday.

Holliday would have to go 0-for-5 or worse for Jones to win the batting title.

The weekend series in Houston, meanwhile, was a three-day tribute for Biggio, with fans packing the park for one last glimpse at the franchise's most beloved all-time player. His final game drew 43,823, the largest crowd in the park's seven-year history.

Even Jeff Bagwell, who shared 15 seasons with Biggio, came to say goodbye.

"This was a special day. You see the way the crowd reacted to him all week and actually, all of his career," said Bagwell, the Astros' all-time leader in home runs and RBI. "But things have to end. The Biggio-Bagwell era is over. You hope some of the things we established will carry over for a long time."

Biggio tipped his beat-up helmet to another standing ovation in the first inning before doubling off the left-field scoreboard off Atlanta starter Buddy Carlyle (8-7). Biggio finished his career with 668 doubles, fifth all-time and the most by a right-handed hitter.

He scored on Carlos Lee's single, his 1,843rd career run. The Astros took a 3-0 lead in the first.

"I was hoping to get a hit, I was hoping that we won," he said. "I didn't want to strike out on my last at-bat. I had all those things. It was a pretty fast day."

Biggio batted again in the second and grounded out, then flew out in the fifth.

The crowd swelled to another roar as Biggio walked to the plate for his final at-bat in the seventh. He took a deep breath as he dug in, but Atlanta reliever Ron Mahay stepped off the mound as the salute continued.

Biggio tipped his helmet one more time, hit a sharp bouncer to Jones at third and was out by a step.

"Standing in the on-deck circle, looking down at your shoes thinking, 'This is your last at-bat -- ever.' It was rough," he said.

He trotted out to second base for the last time to start the eighth inning and manager Cecil Cooper replaced him with Cody Ransom.

Biggio tipped his black cap to the fans and trotted off the field and the Astros all came out to meet him. Biggio embraced each one, then doffed his cap to the Braves dugout and savored another minute of cheers before disappearing into the dugout for the last time.

"I'm going to miss it," he said. "When you're sitting here thinking about it and all those people were standing up and going crazy, you're thinking, this is pretty special. These people are here to say goodbye to you. It's a great feeling."

Hunter Pence added an RBI double in the Astros' three-run first and Houston rookie Felipe Paulino (2-1), making his third major league start, allowed only two hits in six shutout innings.

But the day belonged to Biggio.

In the pregame ceremony, the Astros presented Biggio with a commemorative second base and a letter from commissioner Bud Selig.

"I wish you the best of luck as your playing career comes to an end," the letter concluded, "and I look forward to our paths crossing in the very near future and again, several years from now, in Cooperstown."

The franchise also gave him a check for $3,059 -- a dollar for every career hit -- for Biggio's charity, the Sunshine Kids, which benefits children stricken with cancer.

The Astros and Braves joined fans in a minute-long salute before Biggio took the microphone from owner Drayton McLane and addressed the crowd.

"People ask me why I play the game the way I do," he said. "It's because you guys expect it."

Notes

  • Lee finished with 119 RBI.
  • Jeff Francoeur became only the eighth player in Braves history to start every game.
  • The Astros topped 3 million in attendance for the third time in four seasons.
 
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.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Craig Biggio ends his career as the Astros' all-time leader in games, at-bats, hits, doubles and TBs.  (AP)
Craig Biggio ends his career as the Astros' all-time leader in games, at-bats, hits, doubles and TBs. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

F. Paulino
IP 6.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 3
K 3
Houston

H. Pence
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 

Related Video

December 16, 2014
Fantasy Update: Harry Douglas (0:41)
December 19, 2014
Fantasy Update: Andre Johnson
(0:37)
December 18, 2014
NFL Mock Draft: Which teams might trade up?
(3:24)
December 16, 2014
Fantasy Update: DeAndre Hopkins
(0:42)
Atlanta Braves
Yunel Escobar, SS4000003 .326
Willie Harris, CF4000001 .270
Chipper Jones, 3B3000100 .337
    Jose Ascanio, P0000000 .000
Jeff Francoeur, RF2000021 .293
    Matt Diaz, RF2000010 .338
Scott Thorman, 1B3000110 .216
Brandon Jones, LF4010021 .158
Clint Sammons, C3020001 .667
Pete Orr, 2B3010012 .200
Buddy Carlyle, P0000000 .139
   a- Kelly Johnson, PH0000100 .276
    Oscar Villarreal, P0000000 .250
    Joey Devine, P0000000 .000
    Royce Ring, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Woodward, PH1000012 .199
    Ron Mahay, P0000000 .000
    Martin Prado, 3B0000000 .288
Totals2904038  
a-walked for Carlyle in the 5th
b-struck out for Ring in the 7th
Batting
2B - Clint Sammons (1, McLemore)
SH - Buddy Carlyle (7)
Team LOB - 6
Atlanta Braves
Buddy Carlyle (L,8-7) 4533250 5.21
Oscar Villarreal 1100100 4.24
Joey Devine 0.1100000 1.08
Royce Ring 0.2000000 2.70
Ron Mahay 1000000 2.55
Jose Ascanio 1000000 5.06
IBB - Berkman by Buddy Carlyle, by Ausmus
Pitches-Strikes - Buddy Carlyle 67-39, Oscar Villarreal 14-7, Joey Devine 10-7, Royce Ring 5-3, Ron Mahay 11-7, Jose Ascanio 15-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Buddy Carlyle 6-1, Oscar Villarreal 1-2, Ron Mahay 1-2, Jose Ascanio 1-2
Batters Faced - Buddy Carlyle 19, Oscar Villarreal 5, Joey Devine 2, Royce Ring 1, Ron Mahay 3, Jose Ascanio 3
Houston Astros
Josh Anderson, CF4110010 .358
Craig Biggio, 2B4110000 .251
    Cody Ransom, SS0000000 .229
Lance Berkman, 1B2100110 .278
    Mike Lamb, 1B1000000 .289
    Brian Moehler, P0000000 .200
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
Carlos Lee, LF2012100 .303
    Luke Scott, LF1000000 .255
Hunter Pence, RF4021010 .322
Mark Loretta, SS2010002 .287
    Chris Burke, SS-2B2000002 .229
Ty Wigginton, 3B2000013 .278
    Eric Bruntlett, 3B1000000 .246
Brad Ausmus, C1000100 .235
    J.R. Towles, C1010000 .375
Felipe Paulino, P2000013 .000
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000000 .233
    Mark McLemore, P0000000 .000
    Eric Munson, 1B0000000 .235
Totals3037335  
a-popped out for Paulino in the 6th
Batting
2B - Craig Biggio (31, Carlyle), Hunter Pence (30, Carlyle)
RBI - Carlos Lee 2 (119), Hunter Pence (69)
CS - J.R. Towles (1, 2nd base by Ring/Sammons)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Loretta-Biggio-Berkman
Houston Astros
Felipe Paulino (W,2-1) 6200330 7.11
Mark McLemore 1200020 3.86
Brian Moehler 1000000 4.07
Dave Borkowski (S,1) 1000030 5.15
Pitches-Strikes - Felipe Paulino 78-46, Mark McLemore 21-16, Brian Moehler 9-6, Dave Borkowski 15-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Felipe Paulino 8-6, Mark McLemore 1-0, Brian Moehler 1-2
Batters Faced - Felipe Paulino 22, Mark McLemore 5, Brian Moehler 3, Dave Borkowski 3
Game Information
Attendance - 43823
Game Time - 2:25
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Angel Hernandez, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Mark Carlson