Astros 11, Orioles 0

For a change, everything went swimmingly for the Houston

Astros.

Their starting pitcher was sharp, the offense had three home

runs among its 14 hits and the game was essentially decided in

Houston’s favor by the end of the fourth inning.

It all added up to an 11-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on

Wednesday night.

Rookie left-hander Brett Oberholtzer allowed three hits over

seven innings to earn his first major league win and Jason Castro

hit a grand slam to provide the Astros with their most lopsided

victory of the year.

Afterward, manager Bo Porter found himself in the rare position

of categorizing all the highlights from a gem of a game from the

team with the worst record in the majors.

”It all started on the mound with Oberholtzer,” Porter said.

”What a tremendous job. It’s amazing what happens when you throw

strikes and don’t put people on base. He did a great job of

attacking the strike zone.”

Oberholtzer (1-0) was thrust into the starter’s role after Erik

Bedard was scratched with a sore shoulder. Making his fourth

appearance and first start in the big leagues, Oberholtzer struck

out six, walked none and did not let a runner get past first

base.

”Everything was on today, worked good,” he said. ”Whenever

someone calls on me to come in and get outs, that’s what I do –

whether it’s relief or starting.”

Porter said, ”You certainly don’t expect what we ended up

getting, but to his credit he did a tremendous job attacking the

strike zone against a really good hitting lineup.”

Matt Dominguez homered and had a career-high four hits for the

Astros, who built an early 9-0 lead against Miguel Gonzalez

(8-5).

”Offensively, those guys kept a lot of pressure on the other

team and gave us a little cushion,” Porter said.

Hours before the first pitch, the Astros traded right-hander Bud

Norris to the Orioles for outfielder L.J. Hoes and a minor league

prospect. Hoes switched from the Baltimore starting lineup to

batting second for Houston and went 0 for 5.

Norris, the focal point of the trade, will start the deciding

game of the series Thursday night against his former teammates.

This was the second time in three games that the Orioles were

shut out. Before that, they were blanked in three of 105 games.

”We haven’t swung the bats real well as of late,” manager Buck

Showalter acknowledged. ”Kind of collectively. You don’t say

that’s just one of those things that’s going to happen. You want to

shorten it up and get back to what we’re capable of. Tomorrow’s an

opportunity to do that.”

Baltimore finished with seven hits, two apiece in the eighth and

ninth innings.

Gonzalez yielded a career-high nine runs, four earned, in 3 2-3

innings. He has lost two straight decisions for the first time in

34 career starts.

”My bullpen was great. Everything was down, and I thought I was

going to go out there and do pretty well,” the right-hander said.

”The first inning was good, second inning I was just leaving the

ball up, and it just carried on throughout the whole game. It was

just a tough night for me overall.”

Houston took control with a four-run second. After Castro hit a

leadoff double, Brandon Barnes delivered an RBI double and scored

on a single by Dominguez before Robbie Grossman hit a shot onto

Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.

The Astros tacked on five runs in the fourth, courtesy of a

botched grounder by shortstop J.J. Hardy. The two-out miscue with

the bases loaded allowed a run to score, and Castro followed with

his first career grand slam.

Brett Wallace hit an RBI single in the sixth and Dominguez

homered off Francisco Rodriguez leading off the seventh.

Grossman, Oberholtzer and reliever Chai-Hen Lo, who made his

debut in the eighth inning, all played together in the minors and

are now trying to take their game to the next level.

”I’m happy for Obi, he pitched great. I’m happy for Lo to get

in a game,” Grossman said. ”I started with a lot of these guys in

Triple-A and it’s awesome to see them come up here and have

success.”

NOTES: It was the most lopsided defeat of the season for the

Orioles. … Houston CF Brandon Barnes left with lower back

tightness. … The Orioles put RHP Jason Hammel (strained flexor

muscle) on the 15-day disabled list and activated Steve Pearce from

the DL. … Orioles star Chris Davis extended his club-record run

of games with a strikeout to 24. … Porter said Bedard was

scratched ”to give him a couple extra days of rest.”