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Lee clears the bases with a double to center

HOUSTON -- Considering the Astros only have two players on the roster who have reached double-digit home runs this year, their idea of being able to outslug the opponent has nothing to do with being able to hit the ball out of the park.

The Astros' blueprint for winning a shootout typically revolves around doing the kinds of things they did Thursday night.

Carlos Lee had a three-run double in the third inning and Matt Downs added a pinch-hit, three-run double in the seventh to help the Astros send the Rockies to their eighth consecutive loss with a 9-6 win at Minute Maid Park.

"The two bases-loaded doubles were huge," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

The Astros won for only the 10th time this year when they were outhit by an opponent, with the Rockies holding a 13-10 edge. Nine Houston players reached base via a hit, including a 2-for-4 performance by rookie second baseman Jose Altuve.

Astros starter Henry Sosa (3-5) won for the first time since Aug. 30 by holding the Rockies to three runs and scattering nine hits in a career-high 6 1/3 innings in his ninth Major League start. He has delivered a quality start in five of his last six outings, going 3-3 in that span.

"He gave up nine hits in this outing, but he was able to keep away from that inning that has been really hurting him in those other starts," Mills said. "He was able to keep them away from putting a big crooked number up there, which was nice to see."

Lee finished with four RBIs, giving him 90 for the season, which seemed like a long shot after he got off to a slow start. He surpassed last year's total and reached at least 90 for the fourth time in his five seasons in Houston. His three-run double to straightaway center field in the third gave the Astros a 4-2 lead, and he added a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

"That's a lot of [RBIs] compared to where I was three months ago," Lee said. "That's something I take a lot of pride in my career is driving in runs and getting the best out of it. At the same time, that's why you play 162 games. You've got to play and go hard and it ain't over until it's over. I still have a chance to do some more damage and put more hits together and finish strong."

Downs appeared to be doing nothing more than adding on when he ripped his bases-loaded double into the gap in left-center, but the runs proved to be crucial. Wilin Rosario hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to get the Rockies to within two, 8-6.

"Every little thing counts, every little run counts," Downs said. "You never know when they're going to get the big three-run shot like they did tonight. It just worked out we could add one on later to give us a little bit more of a lead."

Downs is hitting .373 with six doubles and 14 RBIs in his past 27 games. He leads the Major Leagues with 15 pinch-hit RBIs, a figure that's also a club record in a season for a right-handed hitter. The overall franchise record is 17 by Orlando Merced in 2001.

"It's just one of those things where you have to pay attention during the game," Downs said. "You have to stay in the game and stay focused. You can't be underneath, joking around and watching TV and stuff. You have to stay in the game the whole time and watch how they're pitching guys and how they're doing."

The Astros roughed up Colorado starter Alex White (2-3) for six hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings.

"I felt good tonight but I put myself in some bad spots," White said. "Out of the stretch tonight, it was one of those things where my arm and body were not at the same time."

Sosa had to work out of the stretch quite a bit, too. The only inning in which he didn't allow a baserunner to reach was the sixth. He walked the first batter of the game and watched him get erased on a caught stealing, and he got a 5-4-3 double play to end the fourth.

"At the beginning, I was kind of fast when I got somebody on base and then I calmed down and tried to make my pitch," said Sosa, who has one final start remaining this season.

Trailing, 2-1, in the third inning, the Astros set the stage for Lee's heroics when Sosa led off the inning with his first Major League hit, a double to right field in which it appeared he missed first base.

"I don't want to say it," Sosa joked when asked if he missed the bag. "It was a double anyway."

White hit Altuve and J.D. Martinez with pitches in consecutive at-bats one out later, loading the bases for Lee. He has 16 grand slams, which is second-most among active players, and he hit the ball far enough that it could have been No. 17 had he not hit it to the deepest part of the park.

The ball landed on the warning track, just out of the reach of center fielder Dexter Fowler, and rolled up Tal's Hill and to the wall, 436 feet from home plate.

"I hit that ball good," Lee said. "I know that's a long way out there. It managed to fall and we scored three runs and went from there." Comments