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COL@HOU: Young scores from second on throwing error

HOUSTON -- The Rockies' Eric Young seemed in trouble as he skidded to a stop between second and third base in the eighth inning Friday on Opening Night.

Astros catcher Jason Castro had blocked Fernando Rodriguez's pitch in the dirt and retrieved the ball before Young could make it to third. Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said Young "didn't make a great read," and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said "it was not the greatest decision, but at the same time, you've got to be lucky."

But Young is so confident in his speed, he never feels lost. Castro hurried a throw to second base and fired the ball into center field, allowing Young to race home with the go-ahead run in the Rockies' 5-3 victory at Minute Maid Park in front of 43,464.

"If he throws to second, keep going to third; if he throws to third, go back to second," Young said. "Then I scooted home.

"I was already going to third as he was coming up throwing."

Young entered as a pinch-runner after Ramon Hernandez had singled, and he put himself in scoring position by stealing second -- pulling a foot around shortstop Marwin Gonzalez's swipe tag to make it to the bag.

Tulowitzki added an insurance run in the ninth against reliever Fernando Abad with a towering home run off the train tracks that run high above the left-field wall, as the Rockies opened their 20th season with a victory. Rex Brothers struck out two in a dominating eighth, and Rafael Betancourt struck out Matt Downs to end the game with two runners on base.

It was poetic that Young was the principal character in the victory.

Now 26, Young was at the Rockies' first Opening Day in 1993, watching his father, then-Rockies second baseman and current D-backs first-base coach Eric Young. And his dad struck the key blow in the Rockies' first victory during the home opener at Mile High Stadium days later, a leadoff home run off the Expos' Kent Bottenfield.

"Something we can add to our family storybook," Young said.

The tale of the 20th edition of the Rockies could have a happy ending if they continue to play like they did on Friday.

Guthrie (1-0), who pitched through low run support last season with the Orioles and ended up with 17 losses, threw seven credible innings. He gave up three runs, including consecutive home runs to Carlos Lee and Brian Bogusevic in the fourth inning to tie the score at 3. Guthrie held the Astros to one hit and one walk after the homers.

"Unfortunately for me, I've given up home runs before, so I've had good practice on getting past it and moving on to the next hitter," Guthrie said. "Today was good. It was good to be able to stop the bleeding when they tied it up with two big swings to start an inning."

The new veteran lineup managed just three hits after the third. But Tulowitzki delivered the team's first run with a sacrifice fly, Todd Helton doubled in a run and Michael Cuddyer added an RBI single for a 3-1 lead against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez. Helton's double gave him a 13-game Opening Day hit streak and was one of the highlights of his 15th straight Opening Day start, the longest such run among active players on the same team.

"We worked on it for quite a while over the course of six weeks in Spring Training," manager Jim Tracy said.

The Rockies' defense made a difference. Helton saved a run with a diving play against Bogusevic, with a runner on second, in the sixth. Third baseman Chris Nelson's sliding catch in foul ground in the seventh inning and a patented, across-the-body throw from Tulowitzki to beat Brian Bixler and end that inning made sure Guthrie was in position for the victory.

The Rockies also had help from the Astros, who committed four errors. Four of the Rockies' five runs were unearned. Marco Scutaro set the three-run third into motion with a leadoff single, but the key was Rodriguez's throwing error after picking up Dexter Fowler's sacrifice bunt. It was the second of three errors in the first four innings. The fourth error, Castro's ill-fated throw, undid the good that the Lee and Bogusevic homers did for Houston.

Rodriguez gave up six hits and struck out two in 6 1/3 innings. All three runs against him were unearned, even though his error led to runs being scored.

The Astros lost 106 games last season, but in Spring Training they finished with the fewest errors in the Grapefruit League and came in expecting to be improved defensively.

"It was kind of some mental mistakes I'm more concerned with than anything else," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

Young brought the victory home for the Rockies by running faster than the Astros could throw, or think.

"You'd be hard-pressed to name another guy in baseball that when you send him out there to pinch-run and everybody's expecting something to happen, he's the one guy that can do things like that," Tracy said.

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