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08/29/08 7:48 PM ET

Hawkins on hot streak with Houston

Reliever hasn't allowed a run in 13 outings for Astros

HOUSTON -- The Astros' acquisition of LaTroy Hawkins keeps proving itself more and more fruitful with each outing.

Hawkins, who had been released by the New York Yankees, has allowed no runs in all 13 of his outings for Houston.

Since Aug. 2, Hawkins has given up three hits while striking out 15 in nine innings of work. He's collected one save while walking three.

Not bad for a guy with a 5.71 ERA and a 1-1 record in 33 games for New York.

Manager Cecil Cooper said he will continue his trend of going with the streaking player, using Hawkins mostly in the seventh or eighth inning.

"I ask you a question: How would you do it?" Cooper asked the media Thursday. "The guy hasn't allowed a run, so what would you do? We've got to ride the hot hand."

Cooper said his tactic was not good managing, just common sense, and when his "hot hand" began to cool, he would go somewhere else.

He compared it to what he has done with hitters like Kazuo Matsui and Ty Wigginton. Just because they might go 0-for-4 in one game does not mean they have cooled off.

"You look at the quality, what's happening, how it happened," he said. "If you see a guy struggling a little bit, for a day or two, not having good at-bats or maybe not getting his pitches down in the zone, then you go someplace else."

Luckily, Cooper said, he has options in case Hawkins starts to falter. He said he can use Chris Sampson and Geoff Geary in the same situations, or he can go back to using Doug Brocail.

"If [Hawkins] gets hit, then I look stupid," he said. "I'm not too smart then. But as long as they're hot, we play them."

Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.