Berkman homers, drives in four as Astros hammer Rockies

Hero: Berkman has homered in six of his last nine games.

Unsung hero: Astros lefty starter Wandy Rodriguez allowed three hits in seven innings on the way to winning his third game in eight starts.

Figure this: With the loss, the Rockies are now 7-14 against left-handed starters this year.

Quotable: "When Wandy commands the fastball, he's really tough. Tonight, he was very good." -- Berkman

-- ESPN.com news services

Final score Astros 12, Rockies 0

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Astros keep insisting they're too talented to be sporting one of the worst records in the National League. On Sunday, they showed how good they can be.

Lance Berkman homered and had four RBIs, and Wandy Rodriguez won for just the third time in eight starts as the Astros beat the Colorado Rockies 12-0, their first home shutout this season.

"We swung the bats well and we gave ourselves a chance to score a lot of runs," said Berkman, who's hitting .324 with 15 RBIs and six homers in his last nine games. "When Wandy commands the fastball, he's really tough. Tonight, he was very good."

After averaging only two runs during a 10-game losing streak in late May, the Astros' bats have come alive, with 109 runs on 196 hits in the last 17 games. Berkman was slumping as badly as anyone early in the season and he can't pinpoint why he -- or the Astros -- have started hitting with such ease.

"It's here and gone and here again," he said. "If you could explain it and figure it out, there would be a lot of people knocking at your door."

Luke Scott added a two-run homer and Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Chris Burke and Mike Lamb also drove in runs for the Astros, who took three of four in the weekend series with Colorado.

Rodriguez (5-7) perfectly complemented the hitting, allowing only three hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking two. Manager Phil Garner thinks the 28-year-old Rodriguez is improving with every start.

"Wandy pitched a superb game," Garner said. "I continue to see good determination in his eyes, he doesn't let things getting away from him. It's been a process -- his mound presence, the tempo of the game, the location of his pitches -- all of that, it's all coming together for him."

The Rockies have lost 10 of their last 14. Their just-completed 10-game road trip can't end soon enough -- they went 1-9 and were outscored 74-50, with four games ending in the opponents' last at-bat.

"Hopefully, we can put this trip behind us quickly and have a couple of good series before the All-Star game," said Matt Holliday, named to his second All-Star roster on Sunday. "We've had some hard luck and some rough games."

Colorado starter Rodrigo Lopez (4-2) started getting in trouble in the third inning when he walked Brad Ausmus and Rodriguez, a .160 hitter. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba fielded Burke's bunt in front of the plate and threw out Ausmus at third, but Pence doubled into the left-field corner, scoring Rodriguez and advancing Burke to third.

Lopez intentionally walked Berkman to load the bases for Lee, who flew out to right-center, deep enough for Burke to tag up and give Houston a 2-0 lead.

Lamb led off the Astros' fourth with a triple to left-center, then scored on Scott's ground out. Ausmus then singled up the middle, advanced to second on Rodriguez's bunt and scored on Burke's single to center to give the Astros a 4-0 lead.

Pence followed Burke with an infield hit before Berkman lined a two-run double into the right-field corner. The switch-hitting Berkman has hit six of his seven doubles this season batting left-handed.

"I'm starting to feel a lot better at the plate," Berkman said. "I've needed to pick it up a little bit and I've got to keep it going."

Rodriguez retired six in a row before Jamey Carroll's two-out single in the fifth, Colorado's second hit of the game. Former Astro Willy Taveras pinch-hit for Lopez and flew out.

Through a translator, Rodriguez said he located his pitches better as the game wore on.

Scott homered in the Astros' fifth after Lamb was hit by a pitch. Pence led off the sixth with a single before Berkman homered off the facade in left-center, his 14th of the season.

Trever Miller relieved Rodriguez in the eighth and gave up only a single to Cory Sullivan.

Brian Fuentes, demoted from the closer's role on Saturday, relieved Martin in the eighth and the Astros loaded the bases. With two outs, Lamb hit a two-run single to center to make it 12-0. Fuentes gave up consecutive game-winning homers in Houston on Thursday and Friday and has allowed 10 earned runs in his last five appearances.

"We're aware of the adjustments he needs to make," said Colorado manager Clint Hurdle. "Hopefully, the next time out, he'll be more crisp."

Brian Moehler pitched a scoreless ninth for Houston.

Game notes
Lee's 13th sacrifice fly of the season tied the franchise record, set by Ray Knight in 1982 and matched by Jeff Bagwell in 1998. ... Berkman has homered in six of his last nine games. ... Kaz Matsui fouled off eight consecutive pitches before striking out in his first at-bat, part of Rodriguez's 30-pitch first inning. ... The Rockies are 7-14 against left-handed starters this season. ... The Astros have hit 15 home runs in their last eight games.