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Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 4:52 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 10 4
San Francisco Giants
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 9 0
W Ainsworth (3-0)
L Robertson (1-2)
S Rodriguez (1)
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SAN FRANCISCO 8, HOUSTON 4
 

SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- The Houston Astros ' longest road trip in more than a decade is not off to a rousing start.

Marquis Grissom had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run and Kurt Ainsworth remained unbeaten by surviving five shaky innings as the San Francisco Giants continued to roll, posting an 8-4 triumph over the Astros.

Jose Cruz Jr. and Neifi Perez scored two runs apiece for the Giants, who ran the major league's best record to 13-1. But Tuesday's win was as much a result of Houston's poor defense as any San Francisco attribute.

After losing the opener of a four-city, 13-game road trip on Monday, the Astros looked even more road weary Tuesday. The Astros committed a season-high four errors, two in a five-run second inning that broke open the game.

Ainsworth (3-0) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. He walked just one and struck out four but surrendered homers to Orlando Merced and Raul Chavez .

Joe Nathan followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Scott Eyre got two outs before Felix Rodriguez worked 1 2/3 hitless frames for his first save of the season.

"We're just doing our job," Eyre said. "If we can't finish the job, someone comes out and helps us out of it. Everything has gone our way so far. We'll see how long it can continue."

The Giants' 13-1 record matches the 1918 squad for the best start in franchise history. Only seven other clubs have ever started 13-1, most recently the 1994 Atlanta Braves .

Houston rookie Jeriome Robertson (1-2) was tagged for six runs - three earned - and five hits in four innings.

"Basically, I was just falling behind," Robertson said. "I wanted to be aggressive going to the plate, but I really didn't have it early."

The Astros threatened in the first but Ainsworth got former Giant Jeff Kent to pop out. In the bottom of the inning, an RBI groundout by Cruz gave San Francisco a 1-0 lead.

Merced knotted the contest with his first homer of the season, a leadoff shot to left-center field in the second. But the Astros' defense betrayed them in the bottom of the frame.

Perez opened the inning with a walk and took second on a balk. One out later, Grissom doubled to left for a 2-1 lead. Rich Aurilia made it 3-1 with a two-out, two-base hit.

Barry Bonds was walked intentionally, but the strategy backfired when Merced booted Cruz's fly ball, allowing Aurilia to score. A wild pitch then plated Bonds and Cruz came around when catcher Gregg Zaun fired the ball past Robertson trying to get Bonds at the plate.

Houston got back in the game in the fifth as Julio Lugo doubled and pinch hitter Chavez delivered his first home run of the season and the second of his career. A two-out double by Lance Berkman that plated Craig Biggio got the Atsros within 6-4, but Ainsworth again avoided further damage by retiring Kent.

"That pitch that Merced hit I thought would just be a flyout, but it got out," Ainsworth said. "I hung a slider to the pinch hitter, but I threw strikes. I left a couple pitches over the plate being aggressive. They were really aggressive. They were really swinging the bat early in the count."

An infield hit by J.T. Snow that scored Cruz in the fifth put the Giants ahead, 7-4.

Houston had two runners in scoring position in the eighth, but Rodriguez struck out Richard Hidalgo on a 3-2 pitch and Jose Vizcaino flied out to left. Rodriguez's save was his first since August 17, 2000.

Another outfield error in the eighth allowed Perez to score and capped the scoring.

The last time Houston had four errors in a game was August 19, 2000.

"I'll put it this way: we were one hit away from being back in that game," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "We just didn't play good. We hit the ball good. We left some guys out there."

"Errors are going to happen," Robertson said. "You can't control them. The wind was really causing problems. It knocked some balls down and carried other ones away. Both teams have to deal with the conditions out there."


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