LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Houston Astros wasted some terrific pitching by Bud Norris and Fernando Rodriguez, and slipped to depths the club hasn't seen in almost 20 years.
Norris allowed two hits over seven innings and Rodriguez escaped his own bases-loaded jam in the ninth. But the Astros couldn't muster any offense against rookie Nathan Eovaldi, and David Carpenter yielded a game-ending single to Matt Kemp in the 10th inning that gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 1-0 victory on Friday night.
``Anytime you lose a game in extras, it's hard,' manager Brad Mills said. ``To see these guys battle again like they did last night after a tough loss is outstanding. I can't tip my hat to them enough.'
Houston fell 30 games out of first place for the first time since losing the next-to-last game of the 1991 season - and there are still 41 games remaining. The last time the Astros finished a season at least 30 games out was 1975, when they were a franchise-record 43 1/2 back.
The Astros have to go no worse than 25-18 the rest of the way to avoid the first 100-loss season in the franchise's 50-year history.
They almost lost in the ninth inning Friday night, but Rodriguez staged an impressive escape.
Houston center fielder Jason Bourgeois made a gallant diving attempt on Juan Rivera's slicing fly ball to right-center, but it fell for a leadoff triple. Rodriguez intentionally walked James Loney and Dioner Navarro before striking out pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and getting a force at the plate on Jamey Carroll's tapper toward the mound. Aaron Miles then grounded out to second on a full count.
``Man, that was outstanding,' Astros first baseman Carlos Lee said. ``Fernando showed a lot of guts right there. He got the first two outs, then he fell behind 3-1. But he went after him with back-to-back strikes and made him swing the bat.'
Carpenter (0-2) gave up a double by Casey Blake that went just inside the first-base line, then intentionally walked Andre Ethier before Kemp slapped an 0-2 pitch the other way just inside the right-field line.
``Carp made some good pitches, but they were just able to get a couple balls that they didn't really hit on the screws,' Mills said. ``You kind of had a feeling that maybe the game might end on something like that because of so few hits on both sides.'
Josh Lindblom (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning for his first major league win. Kemp's fifth career game-ending hit made the Dodgers 6-0 in extra innings - the only team in the majors that hasn't lost under those circumstances.
``I knew it was over at the moment it landed fair,' Kemp said. ``If Casey didn't score on that, I was going to beat him up. But he's not that slow.'
Norris struck out eight and walked four before he was lifted for a pinch hitter. The right-hander has yielded just three earned runs over 26 innings in his last four starts against the Dodgers.
In his previous start against them on June 19 at Los Angeles, Norris gave up only one hit in six innings - but ended up with a no-decision. The Astros lost that one 1-0 on an eighth-inning homer by Navarro against Wilton Lopez.
``He has some pretty good stuff,' Kemp said. ``He has a good cutter and a good slider, and he's been throwing his changeup a lot. I see he's been working on that.'
Eovaldi gave up two hits over six innings in his second major league start, striking out three and walking four. The 21-year-old right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth when J.D. Martinez hit a broken-bat liner to second and Jimmy Paredes flied out to center.
``The kid's pretty good,' Lee said. ``He was spotting his fastball and working off his off-speed stuff. He pitched with a lot of confidence. He was throwing anything on any count and managed to stay around the plate and was throwing strikes. It's hard facing a guy you never saw before because. I mean, a guy who throws 96, you never expect him to throw 3-1 cutters and sliders.'
Eovaldi played for Alvin High School in Alvin, Texas - the same school that produced Hall of Famer and career strikeout leader Nolan Ryan, who spent nine of his 27 big league seasons with the Astros. The only other time he pitched from the Dodger Stadium mound was during a winter development camp.
``It was cool, going against the hometown team I grew up watching, but I just tried to stay focused on the game and give my team a chance to win,' Eovaldi said. ``I felt good. My slider didn't feel as great, but my other off-speed stuff felt really good today. I was surprised when they took me out, but that's their call.'
Eovaldi made his big league debut last Saturday, giving up two runs and four hits over five innings in a 5-3 victory at Arizona. He is one of five pitchers the Dodgers have promoted from Double-A Chattanooga this season, along with Lindblom, Rubby De La Rosa, Kenley Jansen and closer Javy Guerra.
NOTES: The Astros are one of four NL teams that don't have a pitcher with at least 10 victories, along with Colorado, Florida and Washington. Wandy Rodriguez goes for his team-high ninth win Saturday night against 13-game winner Clayton Kershaw.
The Associated Press News Service
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