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Holt, Astros Stiffle Pirates

Chris Holt says he really is not superstitious despite a mid-season turnaround following a uniform number switch.

Holt pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings Saturday as the Houston Astros ended a four-game losing streak with a 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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  • Holt (3-11) gave up five hits, struck out six and walked four in one of his better outings of the season. He lost his first six decisions and was 1-9 at the All-Star break.

    Since changing from No. 45 to 44 just after the All-Star break, Holt has gone 2-2 with two no-decisions and a 1.93 ERA.

    Holt first requested his old high school number 32, but learned it was retired for Jim Umbricht. So Holt settled for 44.

    "It was just a little thing I wanted to do to try to change the direction I was going in," Holt said. "I hoped it would give me a new outlook."

    Holt credits his performance and not the switch for the positive results.

    "I think I just have more confidence now," Holt said. "I'm going at guys more and a lot of things are going my way now."

    The Astros never doubted Holt's ability.

    "He did a great job for us tonight," manager Larry Dierker said. "You hate to take a guy out when he's throwing a shutout. But he had thrown 136 pitches and was a little tired."

    First baseman Jeff Bagwell agreed that Holt was a better pitcher than his stats showed.

    "He's said all along that he wasn't a 2-11 pitcher and he's right," Bagwell said. "We feel very good when Holt's out there. He's going to be a winner."

    The Pirates didn't look at him as a 2-11 pitcher either.

    "Tonight (Holt) showed some good stuff," manager Gene Lamont said. "We've always had reports that he had always had good stuff. Ealier he hadn't been throwing well."

    "There's always one guy on the staff who doesn't get any runs. He wouldn't be 2-11 if he had gotten some runs. I always thought he was a good pitcher."

    The Pirates made four errors but Lamont didn't think that was the difference in the game.

    "I only look at errors if it cost us the game," Lamont said. `Last night the Astros were looking at those errors because it cost them the game. Ours cost us some runs tonight but not really the game. It happens to everyone."

    The Astros began the scoring in the first when Bagwell's double drove in Craig Biggio from second. The hit that produced Bagwell's 100th RBI of the season also moved Bill Spiers from first to third. Spiers scored on Everett's groundout to make it 2-0.

    In the fifth, the Pirates made three errors to help the Astros break the game open. Holt reached first on a fielding error by Abraham Nunez and went to second on Nunez's overthrow back to the pitcher.

    Biggio sacrificed Holt to third, Spiers walked and Holt scored on Bagwell's grounder to third that Dale Sveum misplayed for an error.

    Everett then hit his 16th home run, a three-run shot to right-center, to make it 6-0.

    Houston's final run scored in the eighth when catcher Joe Oliver hit Everett in the back trying to pick him off third, allowing him to score.

    Pittsburgh's only run came on Al Martin's RBI single off Sean Bergman, who pitched the ninth.


  • The Pirates suffered a Saturday loss for the first time since the All-Star break. They have yet to lose on Sunday since then, going 8-1 overall on Saturdays and Sundays since the break.
  • The Astros, 6-7 in August, have not gone a month with a non-winning record since June 1997, when they went 14-14
  • Bagwell notched his fifth season with 100 RBIs and 100 runs when he drove in Biggio in the first. Bagwell has 100 RBIs and 111 runs and is the first player in the majors this year to reach that double-triple. Other Astros with 100 RBIs and 100 runs in a season are Jimmy Wynn, Moises Alou and Derek Bell.
  • Benson leads NL rookies in ERA (4.37) and wins (10) and is second in strikeouts (98).

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