DENVER (AP) -- Craig Biggio's arm guard is headed to the Hall of
The way Houston Astros manager Phil Garner sees it, the player
won't be far behind.
"When you look at where he stands [with] offensive numbers,
he's pretty impressive," Garner said. "The guys that are ahead of
him are baseball icons that live forever. The guys that he's passed
and he continues to pass are baseball icons too. So he's in high
cotton he deserves to be there."
Biggio was hit on the left elbow in the fourth inning by
Byung-Hyun Kim, breaking Don Baylor's post-1900 record of 267 times
hit by pitches. Biggio calmly turned and trotted to first as he had
so many other times, but this time he pointed to the ball and asked
the ball boy to send it back to the Astros' dugout as a keepsake
for his years of pain.
"Anybody that's been hit that many times, you have no
understanding about how many times that is and how painful it is
over the years," said Biggio, who had two hits to move into 52nd
place with 2,718.
Many of the fans at Coors Field gave Biggio a standing ovation,
and Cooperstown asked for his arm guard. As for the ball, it's
headed home to his kids.
"My kids collect a bunch of stuff, it's amazing," Biggio said.
"We have a rotation going on, I don't know if it's my daughter's
or my oldest boy's -- somebody is going to get it. They treat
everything with respect, they respect the game."
Baylor, now a Seattle Mariners coach, complimented Biggio.
"It was an honor to watch him play," Baylor said before the
Mariners played Oakland. "I've always liked his style. When he
became a free agent, I tried to lure him to Colorado."
He didn't mind Biggio breaking the record wearing protective
"It's all right. I had a lot of close calls," Baylor said.
"Body parts are not going to Cooperstown. I got hit in the elbow,
the back, the head, the shins. You play and prepare for the next
at-bat. I never missed a game or an at-bat because of it, but I
charged the mound a few times."
Houston did plenty of damage to the Rockies, too, getting 12
hits for its seventh win in nine games. Morgan Ensberg hit his 20th
homer, Jason Lane added 13th and Lance Berkman had three hits to
extend his hitting streak to nine games.
Kim (2-7) kept the Rockies close despite his usual control
problems, but Colorado had trouble against Oswalt (10-7).
The right-hander gave up a two-out double to Todd Helton in the
first inning, but allowed just one more runner to reach second.
Oswalt gave up six hits, struck out six and walked just one. He
hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in nine of his last 10
starts and has given up three runs and 21 hits in 32 1/3 innings
during his win streak.
"He is one of the best," Colorado's Brad Hawpe said. "The
combination of hard stuff and offspeed stuff make him that way -- he
varies his speed so well. And he's a tough competitor."
Especially against the Rockies.
He's 5-0 against Colorado and has had particular success at
Coors Field, where he's 2-0 with a 1.92 ERA. Oswalt said the key
has been lowering his release point to fight the effects of
Denver's thin air.
The adjustment caused him to jam his fingers on the mound after
a curveball in the fifth inning, but it clearly works.
"The thing about this park is you can't throw your curveball
with your regular release point, you've got to throw it a little
bit further out," said Oswalt, who tied Eric Gagne, Jay Powell and
Bill Swift for most wins against the Rockies without a loss. "You
don't have the bite that you have other places, so you have to
compensate with speed and location."
Chad Qualls pitched the eighth and Colorado finally got a run in
the ninth on J.D. Closser's groundout off Mike Burns. That led to
sarcastic cheers from the fans, who spent most of the early innings
booing as the Astros rounded the bases like it was batting
Knowing that Closser has struggled at throwing out runners this
season, Houston ran at nearly every opportunity. The Astros stole
six bases, including three by Chris Burke. Two came in the fourth
inning and one in the second on a play in which Closser threw the
ball into center for an error that allowed Houston's second run.
"I think they took advantage of the situation," said Closser,
2-for-31 throwing out runners after nabbing 5 of 23 last season.
"I don't think it is any one guy teams go after. It was a
situation they took advantage of and they were successful."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle called Kim effectively wild in
previous start -- a 12-4 Colorado victory over Kansas City on Friday
-- and this one looked pretty much the same.
Kim struck out five in five innings, but also walked three and
hit Biggio and Berkman on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning.
But like he has so many time as a starter this season, Kim limited
the damage. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by
getting Ensberg to pop out and gave up just three runs -- two earned
-- despite allowing 11 runners.
"The pitch count was inefficient to say the least," Hurdle
said. "He had two good starts, but today was a mixed bag."
Marcos Carvajal wasn't any better. He gave up a solo homer to
Biggio in the sixth inning, then Ensberg, who hit a grand slam
Tuesday night, followed Berkman's double with a two-run homer that
landed on the concourse just inside the foul pole in left.
Berkman put Houston up 7-0 in the eighth with an RBI double off
Berkman is 15-for-32 during his hitting streak. ... Ensberg
has 28 RBI in June, one shy of the team record for the month. Jose
Cruz had 29 RBI in 1984. ... Helton extended his hitting streak to
eight games and reached 20 doubles for the eighth straight season.
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