Originally created 05/26/06

Astros can't steal victory



WASHINGTON - Tears of sadness streamed down both of Frank Robinson's cheeks, and his voice quivered, even in the aftermath of an 8-5 victory. The Washington Nationals manager had been cornered into a move rarely seen in baseball, the benching of a catcher in the middle of an inning.

The Houston Astros had stolen seven bases - the most by any team in the majors in nearly four years - against third-string catcher Matthew LeCroy. After three batters in the seventh inning, with the tying run on base and shortly after LeCroy had committed his second error by throwing a ball into center field, Robinson pulled him for emergency catcher Robert Fick, a former Atlanta Brave.

"If my daddy was managing this team, I'm sure he would have done the same thing," LeCroy said.

Robinson took it a lot harder.

"I feel for him," Robinson said. "And I hope the fans understand. And I just appreciate him hanging in there as long as he did."

The Nationals captured their third win in a row and fifth win in six games.

They are playing their best baseball of the season, but Robinson couldn't overcome the emotions he felt after putting a veteran through an embarrassing scene. LeCroy, who handles pitchers well but has a suspect arm, was starting because Brian Schneider and former Augusta GreenJacket Wiki Gonzalez were hurt.

"It's not LeCroy's fault. We know his shortcoming," Robinson said. "They took advantage of them today. ... I wasn't trying to embarrass him in any way. It's just a move that at that time I felt like I had to do for the good of the ballclub."

PHILLIES 5, METS 3

In New York, Chase Utley had four hits, Brett Myers won for the first time in more than a month and Philadelphia avoided a three-game sweep with a victory over New York.

Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard each homered and drove in two runs for the Phillies, who won for only the second time in nine tries and trimmed New York's lead in the NL East to four games.

Tom Gordon got his first save since May 14 at Cincinnati and Utley went 4-for-5 in his first career four-hit game.

Jose Reyes hit a three-run homer, a double and a single for the Mets, who had played five consecutive one-run games - going 4-1.

Myers (3-2) threw 119 pitches in seven innings, allowing eight hits and striking out six. The right-hander hadn't won in five starts.