Dodgers 5; Houston 8
It was indeed a struggle for Chris Sampson as the Houston Astros, so pitching coach Dewey Robinson corrected a flaw in his delivery. Bench coach Jackie Moore also reminded the right-hander of what got him to the majors. Sampson pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night, and was hopeful that this kind of outing could turn his season around. "I had a nice heart-to-heart talk with Jackie Moore, because I played for him at Round Rock in '06 and he saw me pitch a lot," Sampson said. Robinson detected a flaw in Sampson's stride and worked with him on shortening it during an extra bullpen session. Sampson combined with Wesley Wright and Oscar Villarreal on the Astros' first shutout at Dodger Stadium since June 23, 1993. "That's the Chris Sampson we've been looking for," manager Cecil Cooper said. Sampson (2-3) struck out three and walked one, matching his longest outing of the season. The right-hander had given up 18 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings in his previous four outings.
Sampson got 11 of his outs on groundballs, including a double-play by Jeff Kent to end the sixth. "It was a good feeling out there, but it's only one outing," Sampson said. Darin Erstad and Miguel Tejada each drove in two runs for the Astros, who have won seven of their last eight. LA Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley allowed five runs - four earned - and six hits in five innings. "The ball was staying up. They're a good hitting team and they put the ball in play."
Their starting pitchers have allowed 14 runs over the first three innings during that stretch. Los Angeles' Rafael Furcal, third in the majors with a .366 average, missed his fourth straight game with a sore lower back.
Furthermore, Billingsley threw two wild pitches and hit a batter during the Astros’ three-run first. The second wild pitch put two in scoring position and led to an intentional walk to Berkman. Carlos Lee followed with a sacrifice fly, and Erstad hit a two-run double to right-center with two outs. Erstad was starting for the eighth time this season and the third time in right field. "When you get a chance, hopefully you can help out," Erstad said. The Astros increased the margin to 5-0 in the second on Tejada's two-run single with the bases loaded, and probably would have tacked on more that inning had they not run themselves into a pair of outs. Kaz Matsui tried to advance two bases on Tejada's hit, but was erased in a rundown between second and third after first baseman James Loney cut off right fielder Matt Kemp's throw toward the plate. Tejada attempted to score on Berkman's double into the right-field corner, but second baseman Kent took Kemp's relay and threw to Russell Martin for the tag on Tejada.
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