Yanks top Astros

March 18, 2009 2:40:12 PM PDT
Mike Hampton pitched five scoreless innings but the Houston Astros, still struggling at the plate, lost to the New York Yankees 4-1 on Wednesday. Hampton hasn't allowed a run in nine innings over his past two starts. That's good news for a team looking for him to be a consistent starter after the lefty was limited to 13 games over the last three seasons because of injuries.

Hampton allowed four hits, struck out two and has a 3.38 ERA this spring.

"I felt pretty good, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part," he said. "I was able to throw quite a few strikes and stay ahead in the count for the most part."

The Astros are 1-15-3 in Grapefruit League play and haven't scored more than two runs in a game since March 10.

"It's frustrating, but by and large the guys we're counting on we know what their track records are," said general manager Ed Wade. "Your track record guys, you know they're going to figure it out at some point ... but it would help all of us sleep if it happened sooner rather than later."

Houston is batting .209 as a team and Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui have two of the worst averages at .087 and .054 respectively.

Chien-Mien Wang gave up three hits and one run in five innings. Manager Joe Girardi was glad the Astros ended up allowing a designated hitter Wednesday, after the Yankees thought Wang would have to hit.

He missed the final 3½ months last season after hurting a foot running the bases in an interleague game at Houston.

Girardi said they got a text message when they arrived in town telling them a designated hitter could be used and had Robinson Cano come over from Tampa.

"I don't know if it was miscommunication on our part," he said. "I don't know what it was, but I was extremely happy."

Wang said his body was moving too fast in the first inning, but he had better mechanics and felt better in the last four innings.

Houston's run came on an RBI single by Lee in the first inning. New York got a pair of runs in the seventh before Eric Duncan knocked in two runs with a single in the ninth.

Notes: Yankees 2B Cano (right shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled to play in the field on Friday. He played designated hitter on Wednesday, going 2-for-4. ... Astros right fielder Hunter Pence sat out Wednesday and is expected to miss two or three more days with a left leg injury.