Bourn steals home on Rodriguez's career night

DENVER -- Michael Bourn can't remember ever stealing home before.

Sure, he's wanted to. Even studied the tendencies of catchers just in case the opportunity ever arose.

Finally, his chance came Thursday. Bourn took off on a double steal and became the latest player to swipe home, leading the Houston Astros to a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

He joined Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Philadelphia's Jayson Werth as players who have stolen home this season -- although those two pulled off straight steals.

Bourn's came on a double steal as Carlos Lee took off from first, drawing a throw from Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba down to second. As soon as Torrealba released the ball, Bourn bolted for the plate and scored easily.

"I knew if he was throwing through I was going," said Bourn, one of baseball's fastest runners.

The Rockies took a gamble on trying to nab the much-slower Lee, who homered later in the game. But the All-Star outfielder beat the throw with a nifty slide into second.

"He can steal a few bases," Bourn said. "That's how he gets you, he'll lull you to sleep and he's gone."

Wandy Rodriguez certainly lulled the Rockies' hitters to sleep, striking out a career-high 11. It was the most strikeouts for a Houston left-hander since Randy Johnson fanned 12 on Sept. 18, 1998, at Pittsburgh.

"He was sharp," said Garrett Atkins, hitless in 25 at-bats before an RBI single in the fourth for Colorado. "Obviously, he's thrown the ball well all year and today was not much different."

However, manager Cecil Cooper didn't even think Rodriguez (4-2) had his best stuff.

"I think he's looked better," Cooper said. "Today, maybe not quite as sharp as he's been in the past, but he knows how to make pitches."

Despite allowing just two earned runs in seven innings, the left-hander saw his ERA climb slightly to 1.90 -- still among the lowest in the majors.

"I felt strong," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I felt very good."

Bourn felt confident at the plate, tying a career high with four hits and finishing with two stolen bases.

His decision to swipe home was made in a split second.

"I [saw] it out of his hand," Bourn said. "I was going."

Ellsbury stole home by taking off while Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte was in the windup, while Werth darted home on a return throw to the mound by Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.

Those type of thefts are much more rare than Bourn's way.

"I can probably get that done," Bourn said of a straight steal of home. "It hasn't happened yet."


Not in Little League or the minors?

"Not that I remember," he said.

The Rockies committed three errors behind starter Jason Hammel, who gave up four runs -- one earned -- in 5 1/3 innings. Hammel (0-2) is still searching for his first win with Colorado since being acquired from Tampa Bay on April 5.

"The kid went out there and pitched today and gave us a chance to win," manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Astros took advantage of two errors by Atkins at third base to score three times in the first inning. Pence hit an RBI single with two outs.

"You're going to get knocked down in this game," said Hurdle, whose team finished 3-5 on its recent homestand. "Your ability to get back up, recover, is what's critical, and that's where we are right now. We've got to find a way to get up and get going."

Game notes
Lee homered in the eighth, giving him seven this season. ... Houston C Ivan Rodriguez had the bat fly out of his hands on a strikeout in the first inning, his lumber landing six rows up in the stands. Fans were able to scurry out of the way of the twirling bat. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki was out of the lineup as a precaution, a day after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Alberto Arias. He said he should be available Friday night in Pittsburgh. ... Rockies 1B Todd Helton had two hits and is three shy of 2,000.