Harrell outduels aged Moyer in Astros' win
HOUSTON—Lucas Harrell and the Houston Astros spoiled Jamie Moyer's milestone-setting night.
The 26-year-old Harrell allowed no runs on three hits and struck out four in seven strong innings to lead the Astros to a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies and their aging starter Saturday night.
Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez hit homers off Moyer, the oldest player in baseball at 49. Moyer became the second-oldest pitcher to start a major-league game and was the oldest starting pitcher ever on a team's opening-day roster.
The Astros hit Moyer hard, scoring four runs on five hits in his five innings of work.
"It's always good to get a lead early and put the pitcher under pressure," Martinez said. "I'm glad we got him early, because we put pressure on him and we gave confidence to everybody."
Schafer, the Astros' leadoff man, hit a 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats in the first inning to quickly put Houston up 1-0. It was Schafer's first career leadoff home run.
Brian Bixler drew a walk, but Moyer then got Martinez to ground into a double play. Carlos Lee, who came in with a .212 lifetime average against Moyer, hit a weak grounder back to Moyer for the third out.
Moyer (0-1) looked sharper in the second inning, retiring the Astros in order. However, Harrell (1-0) was more efficient early, giving up only one hit through three innings on only 38 pitches.
"I'm not a guy who's going to strike out a lot of guys, and if I walk guys, that'll get me in a lot of trouble," Harrell said. "I felt like today, I was getting a lot of contact and getting a lot of ground balls was a key for me."
Harrell threw 93 pitches, 64 for strikes, and didn't allow a walk. Catcher Chris Snyder said Harrell had pinpoint control all night.
"He just went along with my suggestions and it worked out," Snyder said. "That was big for him, to get that first one out of the way. That's what he's been doing all spring. I told him going into it (the game), `There's a reason why you're here now, from what you did this spring. Just carry it over and don't try to change anything, and he went right along with it.'"
Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez doubled down the left-field line in the fourth, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But Troy Tulowitzki hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who threw home for the putout on Carlos Gonzalez.
In the bottom half of the fourth. Bixler reached on a fielding error by Colorado third baseman Chris Nelson, and Martinez followed with a towering home run into the left-field porch for a 3-0 lead.
Martinez, one of seven Astros who weren't born when Moyer made his major-league debut in 1986, said hitting coach Mike Barnett told him to force Moyer to get his pitches up in the strike zone.
"That was the plan, to get him up, because he lives on that down-and-away corner," Martinez said. "(Barnett) was just telling me, `Jay, you've just got to get him up and in, up and in. If you look away, he's going to eat you up with that changeup, because it's going to tail and it's going to be a ball.'"
Marwin Gonzalez, a rookie, led off the Houston half of the fifth with a double to the gap in left-center, his first major-league hit. Harrell then beat out a bunt, putting runners at the corners, and Gonzalez scored on Schafer's sacrifice bunt.
Right-hander Tyler Chatwood replaced Moyer for the bottom of the sixth, and Chris Johnson hit a one-out double to left. Johnson scored on Snyder's single up the middle to put the Astros up 5-0.
"It came at a time when we needed to add on," Snyder said.
Travis Buck, pinch-hitting for Harrell in the seventh, tripled to left center and scored on Martinez's two-out single. Michael Cuddyer homered for the Rockies in the eighth off reliever Brandon Lyon, who's coming off shoulder surgery.
Johnson led off the bottom of the eighth with a double off Josh Roenicke. He advanced on a wild pitch, then sprinted home on a passed ball that skidded away from catcher Ramon Hernandez.
The Rockies scored two runs in the ninth off left-hander Wesley Wright.