HOUSTON—Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy uses pinch runner Eric Young to try and make things happen.
He certainly did that on Friday night.
Young scored the go-ahead run on an error in the eighth inning and Troy Tulowitzki homered in the ninth to lift the Rockies to a 5-3 win over the mistake-prone Houston Astros.
"It’s a blessing to have the speed and it would be stupid of me not to try to utilize it to the best of my advantage," Young said. "I was just happy to make something happen tonight and got the team excited in that inning."
The game was tied 3-3 when Ramon Hernandez singled in the eighth before being replaced by Young. Young stole second base and scored on an error by catcher Jason Castro, one of four miscues by the Astros, who lost on opening day for the sixth straight year. Castro trapped the ball in the dirt and his throw to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, making his major league debut, was high and it bounced off his glove and into the outfield.
"This is also the aggression thing I’ve been talking about," Tracy said, referring to Young’s play. "You’re not going to discourage aggression because you turn the ball club into a 90-feet-at-a-time club, and I don’t want that."
Houston manager Brad Mills was unhappy with all the errors his team made.
"We had some mental mistakes that I’m probably more concerned about than anything else," he said. "Those things, we’re going to address ... they did a great job of that in spring training, but we’re going to work on those and move on."
Tulowitzki’s solo shot off Fernando Abad sailed over the train tracks in left field and out of the park. Tulowitzki started just five days after being hit in the left elbow by ex-teammate Ubaldo Jimenez of Cleveland, an incident for which Jimenez was suspended five games and fined for intentionally throwing at the Rockies shortstop.
Rafael Betancourt allowed a two-out double and a walk in the ninth before striking out Matt Downs for the save.
Tracy loves the way his team worked together for the win.
"We are very fortunate that no one in this lineup feels like: ‘I’ve got to do it by myself,"’ he said. "When you look at the depth of this lineup, (it’s just) hand the baton to the next guy."
Before Young’s score, the game had been tied since consecutive homers by Houston’s Carlos Lee and Brian Bogusevic in the fourth inning.
Colorado starter Jeremy Guthrie (1-0) allowed four hits and three runs in seven innings.
Wandy Rodriguez made his first career opening day start and allowed six hits and three runs—none earned—in 6 1-3 innings. Fernando Rodriguez (0-1) yielded a hit and an unearned run in 1 2-3 innings to take the loss.
It was the first game for Houston under new owner Jim Crane, whose purchase of the team from Drayton McLane was approved in the offseason. The Astros, who lost a franchise-worst 106 games last season, are fielding the youngest team in the National League and had 10 players make an opening day roster for the first time.
Just two position players who started for Houston last season started Friday. Third baseman Chris Johnson is the only player who started in the same spot, with Lee moving from left field to first base.
The Rockies took the lead in the third inning with three unearned runs. Marco Scutaro singled to start the third inning before Rodriguez overthrew first on a sacrifice bunt by Dexter Fowler, which allowed him to reach second base. Scutaro scored on a sacrifice fly by Tulowitzki to make it 1-1.
A double by Todd Helton scored Fowler and put Colorado up 2-1. That hit extended Helton’s streak of getting at least one hit on opening day to 13 straight—the longest active streak in the majors.
Helton scored on a single by Cuddyer to push the lead to 3-1.
Lee put Houston up 1-0 in the first with a run-scoring single to center field.
Houston placed shortstop Jed Lowrie on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb injury before the game. He was replaced in the lineup by Gonzalez.
NOTES: The Astros have an average age of 27.82. Only the Royals have a younger team with an average age of 27.42. ... Helton has started the last 15 opening days for Colorado, which is the longest active streak in the majors. ... The Rockies are opening on the road for the fourth time in five seasons. ... Former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara attended the game. They weren’t in their customary front row seats behind home plate, instead sitting in the second row near Houston’s dugout. ... Former Texas quarterback Vince Young also attended the game and was on the field for batting practice. ... The teams continue the series on Saturday with 49-year-old Jamie Moyer pitching for the Rockies against Houston’s Lucas Harrell.