HOUSTON(AP) Atlanta manager
would be in the running for the NL
award if the Braves had produced better run support for him this season.
Vazquez struck out nine and allowed three hits in seven shutout innings and the Braves snapped a five-game losing skid with
a 2-1 win over the
on Tuesday night.
Vazquez (12-9) lowered his ERA to 3.06, but Atlanta has scored three runs or fewer in 13 games he's started and lost 10 of
''He could have 18,'' Cox said. ''He could be right on for
. He never gets talked about, but with any luck at all, he'd be right there with 'em.''
hit solo homers off
gave up a run in the ninth, but recovered to earn his 22nd save.
''It was a good game for us,'' Vazquez said. ''We have to keep battling and see where we're at. We have to do it.''
led off the ninth with a triple to center and scored on
grounded into a double play and pinch hitter
lined out to end it.
''We just couldn't get the big hit,'' Houston manager
said. ''It's tough to put anything together when you're not putting the ball in play.''
Paulino (2-8) gave up four hits and struck out six in six innings to lose his fourth straight decision. But the 25-year-old
right-hander has looked better with each outing since he was recalled from the minors on Aug. 18.
''I feel comfortable,'' he said. ''I always try to stay that way in my mind.''
Vazquez fanned Astros leadoff man
to reach 200 strikeouts for the third straight season and fifth time in his career. Vazquez struck out five of the first 10
hitters he faced.
LaRoche homered into the Astros' bullpen in the second, his 21st of the season. LaRoche came in hitting .342 since joining
the Braves in a July 31 trade with Boston.
Paulino missed the strike zone on 25 of his first 50 pitches. He threw a wild pitch and gave up three walks in the first three
McLouth homered to right with one out in the fifth, his 17th of the season.
followed with a single to center, but Paulino picked him off with a quick move to first baseman
Vazquez retired 11 in a row after
's single leading off the second. Blum lined a two-out single to left in the Astros' fifth, but
flew out on Vazquez's next pitch.
The Astros loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. Tejada then hit a hard grounder that ricocheted off Vazquez's glove.
charged in, scooped it up and threw out Tejada by a step.
''Chipper's play was huge,'' Vazquez said. ''I thought he was going to be safe when I hit with my glove.''
Pence singled and Blum walked leading off the Houston half of the seventh.
advanced the runners with a bunt, but Vazquez escaped again by striking out
''Any time you can put away hitters, you can get out of jams like that,'' said catcher
. ''He beared down right there and made his best pitches of the night.''
, who blew a save against Cincinnati on Sunday, relieved Vazquez in the eighth. Berkman hit a one-out single before Lee grounded
into a double play.
NOTES: LaRoche has hits in 22 of his last 25 games. ... Vazquez is the sixth active pitcher with five or more 200-strikeout
seasons. The others are
(5). ... INF
, whose minor-league contract was purchased by the Astros on Monday, was beaned by RHP
during batting practice on Tuesday. ''It's all right, it was a mistake,'' Johnson said. ''It happens in baseball. That's why
we wear helmets. I'm all right.''