HOUSTON -- The game has changed in many ways from the time left-hander Jamie Moyer debuted in 1986 to Saturday night, when he became the second-oldest Major League pitcher to make a start, at 49 years and 141 days. But what hasn't changed is the fact that no pitcher, at any age, can win without run support or defense, especially when the other team is hitting the ball over the fence.Astros starter Lucas Harrell -- 13 months old when Moyer debuted for the Cubs on June 16, 1986 -- held the Rockies scoreless on three hits for seven innings, and the Rockies lost, 7-3, at Minute Maid Park. Only Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, at 59 years and 80 days when he threw for the Kansas City A's on Sept. 25, 1965, had more candles on his cake when taking the mound.
But Saturday wasn't about Paige or Brooklyn's Jack Quinn, whom Moyer will eclipse as the oldest ever to earn a "W" whenever that day comes."It's about our team, about us winning," Moyer said. "We won last night, and it would have been nice to win tonight to create some momentum." Moyer, who last pitched for the Phillies on July 20, 2010, before undergoing surgery on his left elbow, was trying to become the oldest winning pitcher ever. But the Rockies didn't score until Michael Cuddyer homered to lead off the eighth, and Moyer wound up part of a couple of firsts. Jordan Schafer delivered his first home run to lead off a game when he sent a 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall in the first inning. It was the first of two Houston homers, as J.D. Martinez went deep for two runs in the fourth. In addition, Marwin Gonzalez, a 23-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick who ended up as the Astros' starting shortstop when Jed Lowrie went on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb, doubled off Moyer in the fifth for his first Major League hit. "You never like to lose," Moyer said. "Obviously, run support will take care of itself. As a pitcher you've got to go out and do your job, and I put us behind the eight-ball with the first hitter of the game." Gonzalez scored the last of four runs, three earned, off Moyer in his five innings. But Moyer, who also gave up five hits, struck out two and walked one, was hurt by the Rockies' defense in the Astros' two-run fourth. Third baseman Chris Nelson threw wildly to first on an infield dribbler by the speedy Brian Bixler. Second baseman Marco Scutaro retrieved the ball but hit Bixler with the throw to second. "Bixler is a fast runner. ... After I realized where I was, I shouldn't have thrown it," Nelson said. Martinez followed the errors with a homer to left field for a three-run Astros lead. The homers brought Moyer's all-time record total to 513.
Scutaro committed a second error later in the inning, the third for a Rockies team that had benefited from four Astros errors in the opener. That error didn't lead to any runs, but it did force Moyer to throw more pitches.Moyer threw 69 pitches and had enough steam to go longer if the Rockies hadn't fallen behind. "Jamie gave us a competitive effort," manager Jim Tracy said. In the span between Schafer's homer and the error that set up Martinez's homer, Moyer allowed just one baserunner. He walked Bixler after Schafer's game-opening homer but erased him by forcing Martinez into a double-play grounder. Rockies reliever Tyler Chatwood gave up two runs and four hits, but struck out three, in two innings. Harrell (1-0), who won for the first time since his Major League debut on July 30, 2010, against the Brewers, left the Rockies confounded by hitting the strike zone with the movement of his fastball, and mixing in a breaking ball and changeup that forced weak contact from left-handed hitters. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. "If you can be a starting pitcher, not walk anybody and still be able to have the movement that he did, you've got to give him credit," Cuddyer said. "It was definitely more than what I expected," Harrell said. "I wanted to go out there and stick to my game plan. [Catcher Chris] Snyder had a game plan for us before I went out there, and I feel like it really got executed well." Cuddyer's homer off Astros reliever Brandon Lyon was his first with the Rockies. Cuddyer, who had two hits on Saturday and two in Friday night's 5-3 season-opening victory, spent all or part of 11 seasons with the Twins before signing a three-year contract with the Rockies this offseason. Troy Tulowitzki tripled in a run in the ninth inning and scored on Todd Helton's fielder's-choice grounder off Astros reliever Rhiner Cruz.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.