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HOU@COL: Lowrie's solo shot puts Astros up 2-0 early

DENVER -- Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie certainly wasn't alone in making a key mistake in the first game of a doubleheader Monday at Coors Field. Chris Johnson's error in the first inning proved to be costly, and starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez didn't have his best stuff.

But with the scored tied in the eighth inning of a back-and-forth contest that was dominated by offense, as balls were sprayed all over the wide-open outfield, Lowrie's fielding error opened the door for the Rockies to push across a pair of runs and take Game 1 of the doubleheader, 9-7.

The Astros' reached double digits in hits (12) for only the second time in their past 23 games, but they couldn't overcome a rare poor outing by Rodriguez and three errors, two of which led to the Rockies scoring four unearned runs. The loss was Houston's third in a row.

"In this environment, in this ballpark, we've all seen games like this," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "In this ballpark, more chances than not, that's how games are won and lost, when you give them extra outs and walks and don't hit the cut-off man. The outfield is so big, and it's tough to cover all the ground, so if you give them those extra outs and so forth, it's too easy to get those extra hits."

The big hit for the Rockies came moments after Lowrie's error had allowed runners to reach second and third base. Jordan Pacheco dropped a bloop single to center field in front of Jordan Schafer to score pinch-runner Jeremy Guthrie and Dexter Fowler, handing the loss to reliever Fernando Rodriguez (1-5).

Rodriguez retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth before allowing a walk and a single. Fowler followed with a grounder to Lowrie, who made an errant flip that glanced off of Guthrie as he was arriving at the base. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was late to the bag, and watched the ball roll into center, allowing the runners to advance into scoring position.

"It was just some miscommunication," Lowrie said. "I thought [Altuve] was calling for the ball. Before the play, we had decided if he hits a ball to the left side that we would go to first. The way that ball was hit, I thought I heard him calling for it, and I didn't think I had a chance at first with Fowler running anyway. I thought we had a better chance with Guthrie at second."

Mills never got a good look at what materialized at second.

"When it was hit, my first inclination was to turn to Fowler real quick to see how he got out of the box," Mills said. "I looked back and he was throwing to second."

The Astros enjoyed one of their biggest offensive outputs of the month, with the top five hitters in the order combining to go 12-for-23, and scoring all seven runs. Schafer (3-for-5, three runs) and Carlos Lee (3-for-4) led the charge, with Lowrie adding a first-inning homer.

"The guys scored a lot for me," Rodriguez said. "If I had thrown a good game, I would have won, because I had good run support, but I didn't have good command of all my pitches today."

Rodriguez got a no-decision after throwing five innings and giving up seven runs (four earned). He has thrown at least five innings in 40 consecutive starts dating to the start of last season.

"All the time I tried to make quality pitchers to the hitter, but I missed a lot on my location," he said. "My breaking ball, I had it, but the hitter could hit it easy because it wasn't breaking too fast."

The Astros, who were held to two hits in Sunday's loss to the Dodgers, scored two runs on three extra-base hits in the first inning, with Schafer hitting a leadoff triple and scoring on Altuve's groundout, and Lowrie socking his eighth homer.

But the Rockies erupted for five runs off of Rodriguez in the bottom of the inning, capped by a two-run, two-out home run by catcher Wilin Rosario. Only two of the runs were earned, though, because of a fielding error by Johnson at third.

"For the third time in seven games, we put a nice number up there in the first inning," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We did the same thing in Miami, where we scored seven runs total in the first two games of that series in the top of the first inning. We answered very nicely the two runs they got with a five-spot."

Troy Tulowitzki led off the fifth with a solo homer to give Colorado a 7-6 lead. Rodriguez retired the next three batters in order, but his day was done after five innings and 107 pitches. Schafer generated a run for the Astros in the seventh by reaching on a bunt single, stealing second base and scoring on an Altuve single to tie the game.

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