Brandon Backe pitched five scoreless innings, and Lance Berkman hit his fourth homerun as the Houston Astros defeated the Florida Marlins 5-0 at Minute Maid Park.
Even though Backe did not allow a run, he did not have a strong performance pitching. In five innings, he allowed five walks and five hits.
The Marlins had runners in scoring position in the first five innings but stranded all their runners.
Backe said he was grateful for his defense behind him.
"Awful, but the end result was good," Backe said. "Thank goodness I have a good defense behind me."
Backe (1-1) became the first Astros’ starting pitcher to record a win in the 2008 season.
Houston’s manager, Cecil Cooper, said Backe had better performances in his previous starts but came through when he needed to.
"Brandon didn't have the real good stuff that he's had before," Cooper said. "But he made big pitches when he had to and he battled through it."
The Astros scored all five of their runs in the first two innings against Florida starter Andrew Miller. With two outs in the first inning, Berkman and Carlos Lee singled. Miguel Tejada drove in Berkman with a single to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, Jose Cruz Jr. led off with a double to left. Brad Ausmus followed with a double to deep center that scored Cruz. Backe advanced Ausmus to third on a sacrifice.
Mark Loretta drove in Ausmus with a single to make it 3-0. Berkman got the Astros’ last two runs with a homerun to left.
Miller (0-2) gave up eight hits, five runs, and four walks, and struck out six in five innings.
Florida’s manager Fredi Gonzalez said despite giving up early runs Miller did fine.
"He gave up those five runs the first two innings, and a lesser pitcher would've folded the tent then. But he stayed in there. He did a terrific job. I hope he learns a lot from it," Gonzalez said.
Miller said he saw progress from his first two starts which he had a 12.91 ERA.
"I felt my stuff was a lot better than in the first two games," Miller said. "I felt good and I think after that second inning, I kind of settled down. It's definitely better for me. This is a noticeable difference from the way I pitched the first two games."
Geoff Geary pitched two scoreless innings for the Astros.
Doug Brocail pitched a perfect eighth and Jose Valverde allowed only two hits in the ninth, not giving up any runs for the first time this season.
The Astros (4-8) close out the series with the Marlins (7-4) Sunday at 1:05 pm CST.
Wandy Rodriguez (0-0) will start for the Astros against the Marlins’ Burke Badenhop (0-0).