Lee gets on stick horse for fans after hitting home run

Carlos Lee made good on a promise to his fans.

Lee, nicknamed “El Caballo” or “The Horse,” received a stick horse from the fans who call themselves “Los Caballitos” before Tuesday’s game and vowed he’d ride it if he hit a homer.

The 240-pound slugger hit a two-run shot and drove in two more runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 6-1 win over the Florida Marlins.

The home run to the Crawford Boxes in left field off Jorge Julio put Houston ahead 2-1 in the fourth. Lee trotted around the bases and then galloped through the dugout on the stick horse while receiving congratulatory pats from his teammates.

“I promised them that I would do it and I did it,” he said with the furry horse peeking out of his locker over his right shoulder.

Lee’s offensive burst helped Astros ace Roy Oswalt improve to 3-0. He was pitching on short rest and allowed one run – Hanley Ramirez homered on his third pitch – and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

“That was vintage Roy,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “He did a masterful job.”

In other NL games, it was: New York 8, Philadelphia 1; Colorado 5, San Francisco 3; Atlanta 6, Washington 4; San Diego 4, Chicago 3, 14 innings; Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 1; Cincinnati 11, Milwaukee 5; and Los Angeles 6, Arizona 4.

Oswalt has won nine straight decisions dating to August, tying a career high. He struck out seven and walked three. The Astros have scored 15 runs in Oswalt’s last two starts, a statistic that is comforting to him after Houston’s offensive struggles last season.

“It’s a big plus,” he said. “Once you get a cushion, you can kind of just go right after guys. Before then you kind of have to pitch with caution to not give up too many runs.”

Houston begins a four-city, nine-game road trip Wednesday, but Lee’s new companion won’t be making the trip.

“He’s a home horse. He has to stay at home,” Lee joked. “You can’t bring a horse on the road – too much maintenance.”

Mets 8, Phillies 1

At Philadelphia, Freddy Garcia’s long-anticipated debut with the Phillies was a bust.

Moises Alou homered twice and drove in three runs, and Tom Glavine (3-1) got his 293rd win for New York.

Garcia (0-1) allowed three runs and eight hits, striking out six in 4 2-3 innings. The two-time All-Star acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the offseason missed two starts with biceps tendinitis. He was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but consecutive rainouts pushed him back two days.

David Wright extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games, tying the Mets’ franchise record.

Rockies 5, Giants 3

Yorvit Torrealba’s three-run double off Kevin Correia capped a five-run eighth inning that carried host Colorado past San Francisco.

Matt Cain scattered two singles over seven shutout innings but remained winless despite a 1.80 ERA, thanks to a bullpen that squandered a 3-0 lead.

Steve Finley led off the eighth with a pinch-hit home run, his first with the Rockies. Garrett Atkins started a two-out rally with a single, and four batters later, Torrealba doubled to the wall in left off Correia (0-1).

Ramon Ramirez (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win, and Brian Fuentes finished for his third save.

Braves 6, Nationals 4

John Smoltz moved within one strikeout of Cy Young and within five wins of 200 in visiting Atlanta’s victory.

Smoltz (2-1) didn’t allow an earned run until the seventh inning, Chipper Jones homered, and Kelly Johnson had a career-high four hits.

The Braves made three errors, two by shortstop Edgar Renteria, and squandered most of a four-run lead but held on against the Nationals, who wore Virginia Tech baseball caps as a tribute to the victims of Monday’s shooting rampage at the school.

Relievers Oscar Villareal, Rafael Soriano and Bob Wickman got the final nine outs, with Wickman earning his fourth save.

Jerome Williams (0-3) gave up three runs in the first, and opponents have outscored the Nationals 19-0 in the first inning this season.

Padres 4, Cubs 3, 14 innings

Geoff Blum doubled in the go-ahead run in the 14th inning to lift visiting San Diego.

Khalil Greene led off the inning with a double to the right-field corner against Will Ohman (0-1), and with one out, Blum sent a shot to left that Jacque Jones let skip by him.

Doug Brocail (1-0) struck out four and allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. Trevor Hoffman pitched the 14th for his third save.

Pirates 6, Cardinals 1

Tom Gorzelanny (2-0) and Matt Capps combined on a four-hitter and Adam LaRoche hit a three-run homer, to lead visiting Pittsburgh to a two-game sweep.

St. Louis’ 6-7 start is the worst by a World Series winner since the 1998 Florida Marlins were 1-11.

Adam Wainwright (1-1) gave up five runs – four earned – and eight hits in six innings.

Reds 11, Brewers 5

Ryan Freel had four hits and singled to start a seventh-inning rally for host Cincinnati, which split a four-game series with Milwaukee.

Left-hander Mike Stanton (1-0) pitched two hitless innings to get the win. Brian Shouse (1-1) allowed a single to Josh Hamilton, who later scored the tiebreaking run on a bases-loaded wild walk by Greg Aquino.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 4

Juan Pierre doubled and tripled and scored three runs to lead visiting Los Angeles, which won for the 10th time in 12 games and swept a two-game series to take a 1 1/2 game lead over the second-place Diamondbacks.

With the game tied at 4-4 in the seventh, Pierre tripled off Tony Pena (0-1) to drive in a run, then raced home on shortstop Alberto Callaspo’s throwing error.

Chad Billingsley (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory. Takashi Saito pitched the ninth for his sixth save.