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NL: Bagwell, Kent have blast as Astros win opener

HOUSTON - The Astros wanted more offense. Jeff Kent and Jeff Bagwell gave it to them immediately.

By Associated Press
Published April 2, 2003

Kent hit a home run in his first at-bat for Houston and Bagwell homered twice as the Astros won their season opener Tuesday night, 10-4 over the Rockies.

Kent, the 2000 NL MVP, helped lead the Giants to the World Series last year. He signed an $18.2-million, two-year contract with the Astros in the offseason, joining Bagwell and Lance Berkman in the middle of a powerful lineup.

"With the welcome I received from the fans, I did not want to let them down," Kent said. "As long as I've been in the game, I know enough that you don't get off to a bad start. So for all things that came together for me tonight, it means a lot."

Roy Oswalt pitched seven strong innings and the Astros roughed up NL Rookie of the Year Jason Jennings in their first home opener since their stadium was renamed Minute Maid Park.

Kent finished 3-for-5 and scored twice. Bagwell hit a solo homer and a two-run shot, while Geoff Blum also homered and knocked in three runs.

"Kent had a fine game," manager Jimy Williams said. "His first at-bat certainly has to make you feel great. Bagwell had a great game, too, to say the least."

The Astros piled up 14 hits, including six off Jennings in a six-run third.

Bagwell's 27th career multihomer game made him the second player in franchise history to hit more than one home run in a season opener. Roman Mejias homered twice against the Cubs in 1962, the first game in franchise history.

Oswalt, who went 19-9 last season with a 3.01 ERA, held the Rockies to four hits and two runs - one earned.

Jennings gave up eight runs and nine hits in four innings.

Kent homered over the rightfield fence off Jennings in the second.

Houston blew it open in the third with four straight hits - singles by Oswalt and Craig Biggio, a two-run double by Blum and a two-run homer by Bagwell.

A run-scoring double by Richard Hidalgo and a sacrifice fly by Brad Ausmus completed the big inning for a 7-2 lead.

Part of the pregame ceremony honored the seven astronauts who died aboard space shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1. Seven first pitches were thrown simultaneously by family and friends of the fallen astronauts. The Astros will wear a patch on their right sleeves throughout the season to honor the astronauts.

GIANTS 8, PADRES 1: Barry Bonds hit a three-run homer for his first hit of the season and Jason Schmidt pitched into the eighth for visiting San Francisco.

Bonds' 614th career homer went an estimated 463 feet, landing several feet in front of the right corner of the big scoreboard 29 rows beyond the rightfield wall at Qualcomm Stadium.

The five-time MVP was 0-for-5 with three walks and three strikeouts in two games before connecting on a 2-1 pitch from rookie Mike Bynum with one out in the eighth to give the Giants a 7-0 lead.

Jose Cruz singled and Rich Aurilia walked ahead of Bonds' homer.

Benito Santiago, Ray Durham and Cruz also connected for the Giants, giving the defending NL champions seven homers in two games. Santiago and Durham have two apiece.

Bonds has 71 career homers against the Padres, his most against any team, and 38 in San Diego, his most in any road ballpark. Of his 120 homers since the start of the 2001 season, 19 have come against San Diego.

D'BACKS 5, DODGERS 4 (10): Junior Spivey's bases-loaded single gave host Arizona the win.

Diamondbacks ace Curt Schilling allowed two hits through seven and took a 4-0 lead into the eighth. But he gave up a three-run homer to Dave Roberts, then Shawn Green hit a run-scoring single off reliever Mike Myers to tie it at 4.

Mark Grace, who entered in a double-switch to start the 10th, doubled off loser Paul Shuey with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Quinton McCracken.

Tony Womack's grounder went through the legs of first baseman Daryle Ward for an error, and McCracken advanced to third. Shuey walked Steve Finley on four pitches to load the bases.

Spivey, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, lined the winning hit over third to bring home McCracken.

Matt Mantei pitched a scoreless 10th for the victory.

[Last modified April 2, 2003, 02:03:29]

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