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Astacio Spoils Guzman's Debut

Pedro Astacio dropped to his knees by the side of the mound and pounded the artificial turf three times with his fist.

After dominating the Cincinnati Reds all afternoon, he was overjoyed that one hanging pitch hadn't cost him a win.

Astacio pitched a four-hitter and escaped a ninth-inning threat Thursday, outpitching Reds newcomer Juan Guzman while leading the Colorado Rockies to a 2-1 victory.

The Rockies have beaten the Reds only twice in nine games this season, both times with Astacio (12-9) on the mound. The right-hander shut the Reds down three weeks ago in Cincinnati and did so again Thursday.

"That's the second time he's stuck it to us here," Reds manager Jack McKeon said. "The guy is tough on us and I don't know why."

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Game Summary

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  • Astacio struck out nine and walked two in his fifth complete game, matching Roger Bailey's franchise record from 1997. He gave up a homer to Mike Cameron to open the Reds' first, then avoided problems until the ninth.

    Sean Casey reached on second baseman Chris Sexton's error with one out and Greg Vaughn walked. Barry Larkin grounded into a forceout at second, then stole second with Aaron Boone at bat.

    Boone, who had singled home the winning run in the ninth inning of the series opener Tuesday night, had a chance to do it again. He swung at a couple of nasty curves before Astacio made probably his worst pitch of the game.

    "That last one was the only one he hung all day," manager Jim Leyland said. "He hit it hard but we happened to have a guy in the right place."

    Boone's liner went directly to left fielder Dante Bichette. Astacio dropped to his knees and pounded the turf in celebration.

    "This was a great game," Astacio said. "You've got to get excited, especially when you're finishing the game."

    Cincinnati lost for only the third time in 12 games despite a solid debut by Guzman (0-1), who was obtained from Baltimore for two minor leaguers shortly before the trading deadline Saturday night.

    Guzman gave up eight hits and three walks in eight innings but was a victim of Cameron's misplay in center field, which turned Neifi Perez's soft fly into a go-ahead double in the fourth.

    "Even though I took the loss today, if I pitch like that I'm going to win a lot of games," Guzman said. "Everything was working. I just didn't get any runs. That was the difference."

    Murmurs floated through the crowd in the first inning, when Perez, Todd Helton and Larry Walker opened the game with singles, putting the Rockies up 1-0 only nine pitches into Guzman's debut. The Rockies went on to load the bases without scoring again.

    "I was a little nervous about my first appearance in the National League," Guzman said. "Then I said to myself, 'I know what I can do.'"

    Colorado leads the NL in batting average, hits and homers, but couldn't get many hits with runners on base during the series. The Rockies scored six runs in the three games, stranded 12 runners in scoring position and twice left the bases full.

    Cameron's misplay handed them the run that made it 2-1 in the fourth. Guzman, who was tied for the AL lead in walks when he was traded, walked Henry Blanco to open the inning and Perez hit a soft fly that Cameron charged and then let bounce over his head for an RBI double with two outs.

    It was the second time in the game that Cameron got too close to a ball and had it bounce over his head.

    "Even though I know it's going to bounce, I'm going to go hard," Cameron said. "I'm not going to stop being aggressive."

    That was the only break that Astacio needed. He gave up a leadoff homer to Cameron in the first, moving him into a tie with Philadelphia's Chad Ogea for the NL lead with 27 homers allowed. He then retired 13 of the next 14 batters and allowed only one other runner to reach second base until the ninth inning, reminiscent of his last start in Cincinnati.

    On July 16, Astacio allowed four hits and oe earned run in eight-plus innings, retiring 21 of 22 batters over one span during a 6-2 victory. Astacio has won his last three starts against the Reds.

    Walker, the NL's batting leader at .358, went 1-for-5. He was hitless in the first two games of the series, only the fourth time since last year's All-Star game that he'd gone two starts without a hit.


    • Colorado is 3-3 on its 12-game road trip. Five of the games have been decided by one run.
    • It looked like a spring training matchup when Guzman faced Brian McRae -- No. 57 pitching to No. 56.
    • Astacio, known as a second-half pitcher, is 4-1 in five starts since the All-Star break.
    • Vinny Castilla singled in his final at-bat, extending his hitting streak to eight games (12-for-30).
    • Walker was 2-for-17 in Cincinnati this season. One of the hits was a pinch homer.
    • Brian Johnson caught for Cincinnati, his first appearance since he was activated off the disabled list Sunday.
    • The Reds fell to 28-29 at home. They have the majors' best road record at 34-15 but have not been above .500 at home at any time this season.

      ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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