Tejada completes Astros' rally for win
Shortstop's eighth-inning sac fly one of two RBIs on night
HOUSTON -- Miguel Tejada both started and finished the Astros' comeback on Friday night.
Trailing by four runs after the second inning, Tejada led the charge, hitting his 400th career double and driving in two runs to help the Astros erase the deficit and beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-4, at Minute Maid Park.
Coming off arguably his best start of the season in Minnesota on Sunday, starter Wandy Rodriguez surrendered home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Placido Polanco, respectively, in the first and second innings, giving the Tigers an early 4-0 cushion. But the Astros' bats would chip away at Detroit's lead over the next seven innings, scoring twice in the third and once in the sixth. Houston then took advantage of some wild pitching by Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya in the eighth to overtake Detroit and end the Tigers' seven-game winning streak.
"That was an outstanding win for us," manager Cecil Cooper said. "We had some great at-bats off [Justin] Verlander early in the game to get his pitch count up, and then we put some more good at bats on the guy in the eighth inning who was throwing over 100 mph."
Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, second baseman Kazuo Matsui singled with one out off Zumaya. The Tigers' flamethrower then proceeded to walk the next three hitters, bringing home Matsui to tie the game at 4. After a pitching change, Tejada completed the comeback lifting a sacrifice fly to left field to score Darin Erstad, putting Houston in front 5-4.
Before Tejada's at bat in the eighth, the Astros had been just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We believe in ourselves, and that's how we came back," Tejada said. "In the [eighth], the only thing I was trying not to do was strike out. I just tried to put the ball in play and make something happen, and I was happy to hit the ball out of the infield."
In the third, Tejada laced a sharp ground ball down the left-field line for his 400th double, bringing home Jeff Keppinger for Houston's first run. The Astros shortstop would then come around to score on a single by Hunter Pence later in the inning, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Matt Kata would bring make it 4-3 in the sixth, scoring Ivan Rodriguez with an RBI single to right field.
"This was a team win," Cooper said. "Everybody contributed and that's the way you have to do it."
After fouling off two full-count pitches, Cabrera hooked a curveball from Wandy Rodriguez just inside of the left-field foul pole for a solo homer to open the scoring. The 30-year-old pitcher then gave up a two-out, three-run blast to left-center by Polanco the next inning.
The home runs were the 11th and 12th Rodriguez has surrendered this season. He began the 2009 campaign giving up just one home run in his first 11 starts, but has allowed a dinger in each of his past five outings.
"In my first few innings, I felt bad with my location and fastball," Rodriguez said. "I think I was trying to throw to hard."
The Tigers would load the bases in the fifth off Rodriguez, but he would get a 6-4-3 double play to escape the inning. Rodriguez would allow four runs on seven hits and walk four over six innings, receiving a no-decision.
"It wasn't one of Wandy's best efforts, but he hung in there and did a really good job under some tough circumstances," Cooper said."
The Astros used four relievers after Rodriguez exited. Alberto Arias would work a scoreless seventh and retire one batter in the eighth before giving way to Tim Byrdak and Chris Sampson, who would get the next two outs in the frame.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth, giving closer Jose Valverde the night off. Hawkins allowed one base runner and earned his 10th save of the season.
"The bullpen did it again tonight," Cooper said. "They shut it down, and that's what we needed them to do."
Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.