Pettitte shines, Ensberg plates five in Game One of NLDS
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The
were one win away from going to their first World Series last season.
may be the one to get them over the top.
Pettitte pitched seven strong innings and
tied a franchise playoff record with five RBI as the Astros posted a 10-5 victory over the
in Game One of the National League Division Series.
Just like last season, Houston clinched the wild card berth on the final day of the regular season and followed that with an easy win over NL East champion Atlanta in the first game of the NLDS. The Astros won the best-of-five series in five games before losing in Game Seven of the NLCS to St. Louis.
"I was telling (Houston) third base coach (Doug Mansolino) that it was deja vu-ish, if that's a word," Braves third baseman
said. "You score four or five runs against a team the caliber of that ballclub, that's pretty much as good as you're going to do. For it to get out of hand the way it did, it's frustrating."
Signed by Houston after nine solid campaigns with the
New York Yankees
, Pettitte was forced to watch that playoff run from the dugout after suffering a left elbow injury. It was the first time in his career that he did not participate in the postseason.
"It really hurt him last year that he wasn't able to pitch," Astros manager
said. "This is extremely important to him."
"I'm just extremely thankful that I was able to pitch this season for this organization and be able to help us get to the playoffs, again, because I wasn't able to do that last year," Pettitte said. "I'm healthy and I'm able to throw the ball and pitch now in the playoffs."
Making his first career Game One start, Pettitte (1-0) gave up a solo homer to
in the first and a two-run blast to
in the fourth but not much else. The lefthander allowed four hits and two walks with six strikeouts en route to his 14th playoff win, tying him with Atlanta's
for the most all-time.
"I'm just thankful I'm healthy and able to pitch in these games," Pettitte said. "It's fun for me. I don't know if I have ever felt so consistent with my mechanics from the beginning to the end (of the season). I think it has to do with the surgery or me staying within myself and not overthrowing."
An .081 hitter, Pettitte also contributed at the plate with a double and a pair of sacrifices which led to two runs.
"It shocked me, I can promise you that," Pettitte said of the double. "I was telling skip, 'I need a miracle at the plate.' It was nice." Ensberg opened the scoring with a run-scoring single off
(0-1) in the first and added a go-ahead two-run base hit for a 3-1 edge. After the Braves closed within 4-3, Ensberg chased Hudson with another RBI single in the seventh.
"Morgan swung the bat good and got the job done," Garner said. "That's a good sign."
"Today, I think in some big situations he went up there, had some quality at-bats and drove in some big runs," said Astros second baseman
, who had two hits and scored three runs. "He had 100 RBIs over the course of a year, it means you're getting the job done. Once again, he did it today."
Hudson yielded five runs and seven hits with a season high-tying five walks in 6 2/3 innings. The righthander fell to 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA in eight postseason appearances. He is winless in his last six playoff outings.
"Obviously, you want to win every time you go out there and take the field," said Hudson, whose only playoff win came against Pettitte in the 2001 ALDS. "I don't care if I get the win as long as the team wins."
"I was surprised we put the runs on the board, I'm not going to lie to you," Pettitte said. "He's tough. You have to have a lot of respect for him and you can't take him lightly."
In the regular season, Hudson's teams were 87-4 when scoring at least four runs with the righthander on the mound.
"It's definitely disappointing," Hudson said. "We scored five runs. We should win the ball game if I am out there. If I get a chance to go again, you'll see a different pitcher, I'm sure."
The Astros, who struggled to score runs all season, broke open the game in the eighth with five runs against the Braves' bullpen. Pinch hitter
delivered an RBI single off
and Ensberg drew a bases-loaded walk from
, who uncorked a wild pitch to let another run cross the plate.
's two-run single capped the scoring.
"We just got blooped to death," Braves manager
said. "The eighth inning is what really killed us. Reitsma's not going to throw the ball better than he did today."
, who also had a two-run double in the eighth, set a division series record with his ninth home run in the opening round. He has homered in the same game as
52 times, including twice in the playoffs. The Braves are 45-7 in those contests.
Game Two will be here Thursday. The Astros will send seven-time Cy Young Award winner
to the mound against Smoltz, who will be making his first playoff start since 1999.