With a plethora of young arms in the system, Houston traded away the 30-year-old Cruz in mid-December. With the Rockies, he was ticketed for long relief but got a chance to start following injuries to
On Thursday, he allowed two runs but kept Colorado close enough to notch the win when the offense erupted in the fifth. The win was his fourth in 12 career starts and just 13th overall.
"Cruz gave us a good game, it was a little redemption for him," Rockies manager
said. "He made pitches, he was quick, efficient. This had to be an emotional day for him. He's never thrown five (innings this spring). Four was the most in spring so five was a bonus."
"I was a little emotional in the first inning," Cruz said. "Once I got out of the first inning it was back to normal. It's nice to see my ex-teammates. My slider helped me a lot today. I went to winter ball and worked on my slider. I tried to keep the ball down, work fast."
Cruz did not try to hide his disdain for the way Houston treated him.
"(The Astros) don't know I can pitch," Cruz said. "The way they treated me in 2001 was unbelievable, nice. Last year was a disaster. I didn't play. I'm not a cheerleader. I would love to start. I've been waiting and waiting (to be a starter), not just three games a year."
"He was saying no (he wasn't nervous), but I think he was," Estalella said. "I was trying to keep him calmed down.
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, the Rockies got to Houston rookie starter
led off with a walk and Estalella launched his second homer of the game to give Colorado the lead for good.
followed with a double and was sacrificed over. Ron Belliard made it 4-2 with a single and
followed with a base hit.
made it 6-2 with a double into the left-center field gap and, after
singled, Walker launched a long two-run triple to center field.
Robertson was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3.
"He pitched well the first three innings," Robertson's batterymate
said. "He was missing the middle of the strike zone in the fourth. Before that he was keeping the ball down, attacking the hitters."
The Astros were seeking their second 3-0 start in three seasons.
After Colorado stranded a runner in scoring position in the opening inning, Estalella put the Rockies on top 1-0 with his first homer of the season.
Estalella, who once hit three homers in a game, has six career multi-homer games.
"I was just trying to put good swings on the ball and make contact," Estalella said. "I wasn't trying to hit home runs. The first (homer) was a cutter or slider down and in. The second was a fastball up."
The Astros got even in the second when
walked, stole second and scored on Zaun's two-out double.
homered with one out in the third - his 2,299th career hit - to give Houston the lead but Colorado broke open the game in the fifth.
An RBI single by Belliard and a sacrifice fly by Helton - both in the sixth - extended the Rockies' advantage to 10-2.
Houston scored twice in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Zaun and a and an error by third baseman Stynes.
The Astros attempted to rally in the ninth, scoring a run on a bloop single by
. Houston had the bases loaded with two outs but
lined out to third against
After going 12-for-25 in the first two games of the series, Houston's heart of the lineup - Bagwell,
- were a combined 1-for-13.
"We were just a bloop and a blast away from getting back in it," Astros manager
The win was just the third in 12 games at Minute Maid Park for Colorado.