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San Francisco at Houston

Scoreboard
San Francisco (50-67)001000000140
Houston (59-59) «00000201x370

Astros 3, Giants 1

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Brandon Backe got through the first inning, then led the Houston Astros to their fifth straight victory.

Backe struck out six in seven effective innings, Ty Wigginton homered and drove in three runs and the Astros beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 on Monday night.

Jose Valverde shut out the Giants in the ninth for his 29th save after LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect eighth for the Astros, who've won nine of their last 11. Houston has won five in a row for the first time since May 2-7.

Houston has reached the .500 mark (59-59) for the first time since June 11.

Backe (7-11) allowed a run and four hits to win for just the third time in eight starts. He rebounded from his worst outing of the season, when he gave up 11 runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday.

"I've got to make up a lot of ground for the start I had the last time," said Backe, who threw 103 pitches. "Tonight, I stayed focused on what the plan was and executed my pitches. That's pretty much the difference from being good and being horrible."

Backe has struggled in first innings this season, allowing 21 of his 80 earned runs. He walked two batters in the first on Monday, but gave himself a psychological boost by not allowing a run.

"It's huge," Backe said. "Obviously, you start the game off and you're down by one or two runs, all of a sudden you're back's against the wall. You want to steer clear of it."

Jonathan Sanchez (8-9) didn't allow a hit for five innings, but again got no support from San Francisco's bats. The Giants have scored one run or less during 12 of his 24 appearances this season.

Sanchez didn't speak to the media after the game.

"It was a tough loss," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "It wasn't like they hit him hard. Anytime you throw the way he did, it's a tough one to lose."

Humberto Quintero led off the Houston sixth with a broken-bat single just over shortstop Ivan Ochoa. Backe beat out a bunt that got past Sanchez and Kaz Matsui advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.

Wigginton then singled to center field to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Backe walked Rich Aurilia with one out in the seventh, but Emmanuel Burriss hit a hard grounder back to the mound to start a double play. Backe pumped his fist as he ran back to the dugout.

"Games like this are what I need to get past the previous start," Backe said. "Not only did I pitch well, I pitched well in a game I needed to."

Hawkins set down the Giants in order in the eighth, striking out two of the three batters. Wigginton hit a solo homer to left off Billy Sadler in the Astros' eighth.

The Giants won their last two games after trailing in the ninth inning or later, but Valverde made sure that didn't happen this time.

He struck out Fred Lewis, got Bengie Molina on a groundout and fanned Aaron Rowand to end it.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the third after Ochoa doubled and scored on Lewis' single to left. Wigginton bobbled the ball as Ochoa rounded third and his throw home was late. Wigginton made his first start of the season in left field in place of Carlos Lee, who's out 6-to-8 weeks with a broken left little finger. Lee had surgery earlier Monday.

Wigginton caught only one fly ball on Monday night, his sixth career start in left field and first since October 2006.

"It was fine," he said. "It's not like I got a whole lot of action, either."

Sanchez retired the first eight batters he faced, then walked Backe with two outs in the Houston third. Matsui flew out to end the inning.

The Astros went down in order again in the fourth. Sanchez retired seven of the first 12 Houston hitters he faced on groundouts.

Mark Loretta and Hunter Pence flied out to start the Astros' fifth and Sanchez fanned Michael Bourn for his first strikeout.

"He threw great," Bochy said. "It's hard to throw better than he did tonight. He had good command, he located very well, he had good stuff."

Notes

Sanchez has lost his last five decisions and San Francisco has lost in his last seven starts. ... Wigginton has 12 homers this season and 21 RBI in his last 26 games with an at-bat. ... Before the game, the Astros honored Bill Blair, a former pitcher in the Negro Leagues.

 
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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Players of the Game
San Francisco

R. Aurilia
AB 2
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
Houston

T. Wigginton
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
 
San Francisco Giants
Randy Winn, RF3000111 .292
Ivan Ochoa, SS4110020 .298
Fred Lewis, LF3011110 .279
Bengie Molina, C3000001 .276
Aaron Rowand, CF4000041 .285
John Bowker, 1B3000010 .248
Rich Aurilia, 3B2020100 .277
Emmanuel Burriss, 2B3000003 .252
Jonathan Sanchez, P2000001 .116
   a- Dave Roberts, PH1000010 .250
    Billy Sadler, P0000000 .000
Totals28141310  
a-struck out for Sanchez in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ivan Ochoa (4, Backe), Rich Aurilia 2 (18, Backe, Backe)
RBI - Fred Lewis (35)
2-OUT RBI - Fred Lewis (17)
CS - Randy Winn (2, 2nd base by Backe/Quintero)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Fred Lewis 1
San Francisco Giants
Jonathan Sanchez (L,8-9) 7522120 4.53
Billy Sadler 1211111 4.73
HBP - Bourn (by Jonathan Sanchez)
Pitches-Strikes - Jonathan Sanchez 91-63, Billy Sadler 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathan Sanchez 9-9, Billy Sadler 1-1
Batters Faced - Jonathan Sanchez 27, Billy Sadler 6
Houston Astros
Kazuo Matsui, 2B3000001 .286
Ty Wigginton, LF-3B4123000 .282
Miguel Tejada, SS4010001 .283
Lance Berkman, 1B3000111 .332
Mark Loretta, 3B4010000 .278
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Hunter Pence, RF4000013 .267
Michael Bourn, CF2000010 .231
Humberto Quintero, C3110002 .221
Brandon Backe, P1110100 .316
   a- Geoff Blum, PH1010002 .239
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
    Darin Erstad, LF0000000 .284
Totals2937323  
a-singled for Backe in the 7th
Batting
2B - Mark Loretta (13, Sanchez)
HR - Ty Wigginton (12, Sadler)
SH - Kazuo Matsui (6)
RBI - Ty Wigginton 3 (34)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Ty Wigginton 1
DP - Backe-Tejada-Berkman
Houston Astros
Brandon Backe (W,7-11) 7411360 5.14
LaTroy Hawkins (H,3) 1000020 5.24
Jose Valverde (S,29) 1000020 4.31
HBP - Molina (by Brandon Backe)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Backe 103-69, LaTroy Hawkins 15-10, Jose Valverde 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Backe 8-4, Jose Valverde 1-0
Batters Faced - Brandon Backe 26, LaTroy Hawkins 3, Jose Valverde 3
Game Information
Attendance - 28220
Game Time - 2:29
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Brian Knight, First Base - Jim Wolf, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Jerry Layne