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News » Astros again draw a blank in poor start Batters searching for a way to explain back-to-back shutouts astros: Moehler leaves earl

Astros again draw a blank in poor start Batters searching for a way to explain back-to-back shutouts astros: Moehler leaves earl

Astros again draw a blank in poor start Batters searching for a way to explain back-to-back shutouts astros: Moehler leaves earl
Astros update

Monday: Pirates 7, Astros 0.

Record: 1-6.

Wednesday: At Pittsburgh, 6:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Mike Hampton (0-1) vs. Russ Ohlendorf (0-1).

TV/radio: KTXH; 740 AM and in Spanish on 1010 AM.

PITTSBURGH - The visitors' clubhouse inside PNC Park was a rather quiet place after Monday's game, with players shuffling around slowly and speaking to one another in hushed tones.

The Astros were probably asking each other the same question that has the majority of their fans in an uproar in only the second week of the regular season: Can their offense really be this bad?

Pittsburgh Pirates lefthander Zach Duke sent the Astros to their fifth consecutive loss, throwing a four-hitter in a 7-0 victory before a home-opener sellout crowd of 38,411.

At 1-6, the Astros are off to their worst start since 1984 and are having an alarmingly difficult time scoring runs. They have scored 16 times in seven games and were shut out for the second game in a row.

"Same song," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "We just can't seem to get any hits, can't seem to generate anything. I don't really have an answer right now."

One day after Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse threw a three-hit shutout, the Astros advanced only one runner past second base against Duke (2-0), who walked two and struck out five while throwing 112 pitches.

Astros sluggers Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee went a combined 0-for-8, with Berkman striking out three times.

"We've struggled before," Berkman said. "We have had stretches where we haven't hit well, and during the course of the season, that's going to be the case. We haven't hit well, and that's all there is to it.

"Part of that is we've faced some pretty good pitching. You can't say, ?Well, the guy's terrible, and we're terrible.' Zach threw a great game, and Kyle threw a great game, and it's tough when you're not clicking on all cylinders offensively and you're facing a tough pitcher."

If that wasn't enough to sour the Astros' scheduled off day today, they are dealing with injuries to starting pitcher Brian Moehler and second baseman Kaz Matsui, who has a stiff back.

Moehler (0-2), hammered for seven runs in 12/3 innings in his first start last week, left Monday's game after 21/3 innings with a sprained right knee. He allowed seven hits and five runs.

"I just didn't feel that great. Bottom line," said Moehler, who will undergo an MRI exam today. "We're not playing too well right now."

Duke nearly duplicated the feat of Lohse, who gave up a first-inning single Sunday before retiring 24 consecutive batters. Duke allowed a double to Miguel Tejada in the first and retired 18 of the next 20 batters.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first when Freddy Sanchez hit the first of his three doubles and scored. The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in the third and added five runs, including a two-run homer by Adam LaRoche and a two-run single by Nyjer Morgan off Tim Byrdak.

While the pitching hasn't been good, it's the lack of offense that concerns Cooper.

"If I had answer for it, I'd flip the switch and be off and running," he said. "We're doing it as a group. It's not one individual; it's everybody. We just seem to not be swinging the bats well. Even the approaches are not what they should be."


The Astros' worst records after seven games:

Year W-L Finished

1983 0-7 85-77

1984 1-6 80-82

2009 1-6 TBD

2008 2-5* 86-75

2007 2-5* 73-89

* - Astros also started 2-5 in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1978, 1981, 1989 and 1990.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 15, 2009

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