Denver Good pitching, heretofore contagious in places like Atlanta, may finally be taking root in Colorado, too.
After an offseason of stockpiling high-priced pitching talent, the Colorado Rockies got their third straight solid outing on Thursday.
Pedro Astacio went eight innings as the Rockies routed the St. Louis Cardinals 11-2 to sweep a season-opening three-game series.
Astacio (1-0), following the lead of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, allowed one run and six hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts.
"That was a great performance," manager Buddy Bell said. "Just from a stuff standpoint and a command standpoint, it was probably on a par with what Mike did on Monday (81/3 scoreless innings). It's the third very good start that we've had in a row. You're not going to get that all the time, but with these guys it's kind of contagious."
Astacio, demoted from No. 1 to No. 3 in the Rockies' rotation after the acquisitions of Hampton and Neagle, said his slot is not a concern.
"The only thing I worry about is pitching every five days," Astacio said.
"It doesn't matter if I'm the fifth guy or the first guy. It doesn't matter what position I'm in. I go out every start and try to give them everything I have."
In the series, Colorado's three starters combined for a 1.69 ERA.
The Cardinals, who were swept just twice all last season (both by the Mets), gave up 32 runs in the series, and their three starting pitchers Darryl Kile, Andy Benes and Matt Morris have a combined ERA of 18.56.
The Rockies pounded Morris, who was making his first start since Sept. 27, 1998. Morris lasted three-plus innings, surrendering 11 hits and 10 runs six earned and departed with a 10-1 deficit.
Ron Gant and Todd Helton each hit three-run homers for Colorado. Gant's homer was the 1,500th hit of his career and the 1,500th homer in Rockies' history.
Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 5
Los Angeles Tom Goodwin and Mark Grudzielanek homered on consecutive pitches in the first against Brian Anderson (0-1), who gave up six runs five earned and seven hits in four innings. Andy Ashby (1-0) won his Dodgers' debut, allowing four runs and seven hits in 62/3 innings, including a two-run homer by pinch-hitter Erubiel Durazo and a two-run single by Tony Womack. Jeff Shaw pitched the ninth, for his second save.
Giants 8, Padres 2
San Francisco Jeff Kent hit a tiebreaking three-run homer off Bobby J. Jones, and San Francisco beat San Diego Padres for a three-game sweep. Jones (1-0) pitched a one-hit shutout for the New York Mets to eliminate the Giants in the first round of last year's NL playoffs. This time, San Francisco got to Jones for four runs and six hits in five innings.
Cubs 2, Expos 1
Chicago Kevin Tapani gave up two hits in seven shutout innings and struck out nine, and Rondell White drove in another run against his old team as the Cubs got their first win this season. Jeff Fassero allowed a two-out homer in the ninth to Andy Tracy, but picked up his first save since June 30, 1993, when he was with Montreal. Tony Armas Jr. (0-1) gave up two runs only one earned and four hits in five innings.
Reds 4, Pirates 1
Cincinnati Dmitri Young doubled with the bases loaded in the third off Jimmy Anderson (0-1). Larkin walked twice and scored, ending a solid homestand. In his new role as leadoff hitter, Larkin set up the offense by reaching base in 13 of 18 plate appearances. Elmer Dessens (1-0) allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings, and John Riedling pitched the ninth for his second career save.
Astros 8, Brewers 2
Houston Ben Sheets, who starred for the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney, gave up five runs and six hits in six innings as Milwaukee lost to Houston. Richard Hidalgo hit a two-run homer and Chris Truby got his third homer in as many games for Houston, which swept the season-opening series and is 3-0 for the first time in 13 years. Milwaukee headed home for today's opening of Miller Park with an 0-4 record.
Mets 7, Braves 1
Atlanta Rick Reed pitched a three-hitter and delivered a two-run single in a three-run second inning as New York beat Atlanta to win its season-opening series at Turner Field. The Mets took two of three after having lost 21 of their last 27 games at Atlanta, the team that has edged them for division titles in recent years. Rey Ordonez added two RBI singles and Jay Payton went 3-for-5 to pace the Mets' 13-hit effort.