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HOU@ARI: Martinez belts a three-run shot in the first

PHOENIX -- This is what the Astros had in mind last month, when they decided to go back to the drawing board and call up a group of promising hitters from Double-A Corpus Christi to a team with nothing to lose.

Less than a month ago, second baseman Jose Altuve, left fielder J.D. Martinez and third baseman Jimmy Paredes were showing off this kind of clout in the Texas League, making enough of an impression on Astros management to warrant a shot in the big leagues without stopping at Triple-A.

With the rookies leading the way and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez -- the longest current tenured player on the team -- throwing six scoreless innings, the Astros enjoyed a rare blowout win, 9-1, over the D-backs on Monday night at Chase Field.

The Astros tied a season high by bashing 16 hits, including a season-high-tying six in a five-run first inning, and won for the only the fifth time in their past 17 games. Rookies accounted for 10 of their 16 hits with slugger Carlos Lee out of the lineup.

Altuve went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a stolen base, Martinez was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the first inning and Paredes was 2-for-5 with a two-run single in the sixth. Even rookies J.B. Shuck (1-for-5) and Carlos Corporan (2-for-4) got in the act. Matt Downs (3-for-5) and Clint Barmes (2-for-5) struck some blows for the older crowd.

"It wasn't just the young guys, it was everybody," Martinez said. "I feel like everybody contributed. It's definitely tough coming from the series against Milwaukee [a three-game sweep in Houston]. They beat us up, and it's good that everyone came out swinging. And Wandy did a good job and the bullpen pitched great. It's a good win all the way around and it gives us more confidence."

Every Astros starter except Jason Bourgeois had at least one hit by the third inning against Arizona starter Daniel Hudson (11-8), who was rocked for 11 hits and seven runs (four earned) in three innings. The Astros were 8-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"You have to give Houston credit, they swung the bats well," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "They just pounded him."

Rodriguez, meanwhile, evened his record at 8-8 by holding the D-backs to two hits, though he did issue four walks. Despite the large early lead, Rodriguez needed 25 pitches to escape a base-loaded jam in the first and threw 27 more pitches in the second.

"He was struggling to find that rhythm, but he did in the fourth inning," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "When you have a lead like that, you'd like him to attack. That was part of the rhythm. He wanted to [attack], and in a perfect world he would be able to attack. But that was the frustrating thing for him, that he was having trouble doing that."

Corporan, the catcher, said he helped Rodriguez raise his arm slot to find some consistency.

"He was kind of on the side a little bit, and that's the good thing when you start catching a pitcher every outing," he said. "You know when he's not right. He was doing that wrong and we fixed it. We got it figured out pretty good."

Altuve sparked the Astros in the first inning with a one-out double and advanced to third when Bourgeois reached on a fielding error by shortstop Cody Ransom. Martinez then rocketed a three-run homer -- the third of his career -- to right field.

"We were just trying to put something in the air at the time," Martinez said. "There were guys on first and third with one out and I was just trying to get something up there, trying to get Altuve in. He threw me a lot of stuff low and tried to get me to chase, and I felt I did a good job laying off those pitches. I was able to get a changeup that was up."

But the Astros weren't done in the first. Corporan followed consecutive two-out singles by Paredes and Barmes with a double that glanced off the glove of Justin Upton in right field. Two runs scored, putting Houston ahead, 5-0. Downs and Barmes had RBI hits in the second, and Paredes' two run single in the sixth put the Astros ahead, 9-0.

"I come to hit and I see Altuve single and J.D. homer, and I say, 'Now I need to do my job, too. I need to hit the ball hard, too,'" Paredes said. "I had to hit the ball hard, no matter what happens. If it's a ground ball or line drive or whatever happens, as long as you hit the ball hard, that's it."

Rodriguez began to locate his curveball better after two innings and got into a groove, sending down 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, finishing with 105 pitches. That was an acceptable total considering he threw 52 in the first two innings.

"I tried to make quality pitches every time," he said. "I used my breaking ball, but I would miss. I throw a lot of breaking balls and I was missing my location. I want to throw it for a strike, but I couldn't and I threw it in the dirt."

But those are the types of things a pitcher can get away with when he's working with a five-run lead in the first inning.

"I feel comfortable when I see that," Rodriguez said. Comments