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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros showed plenty of positive
signs in their home opener, just not enough to win it.

Wandy Rodriguez bounced back from a shaky first start with seven
sharp innings and J.R. Towles and Brett Wallace homered in the
Astros' 4-3 loss to the Florida Marlins on Friday night.

Chris Coghlan homered and drove in two runs to back a solid
outing by Ricky Nolasco for the Marlins. Nolasco (1-0) allowed two
runs in eight innings.

Rodriguez shut out Florida through six innings, struck out two
and scattered eight hits. The left-hander again pitched well at
Minute Maid Park, where he came in with a 2.68 ERA over the past
four seasons.

He gave up seven runs on nine hits in a 9-4 loss in Philadelphia
last week. Towles, the catcher, said Rodriguez found a more
comfortable rhythm on Friday.

I don't know if it was cold, but his pace was a lot better
than it was in Philly, Towles said. As soon as he got the ball,
he was ready to go.

Rodriguez threw 83 pitches, 53 for strikes.

I don't want a slow game, he said. I want to quicken the
game. That's what I was thinking.

Towles homered in the third inning to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Florida tied it in the seventh, then scored two runs off Wilton
Lopez (0-1) in the eighth and another off Jeff Fulchino in the
ninth.

Wallace hit a solo homer in the ninth off Leo Nunez. Towles
singled, but catcher Brett Hayes threw out pinch runner Jason
Bourgeois trying to steal second for the final out.

You see how Wandy threw, he threw amazing, Wallace said.
He went out there and gave us a great chance to win. Our defense
played well behind him, for the most part. Next time, we can
hopefully put up a few more runs.

The Marlins lost star shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the seventh
inning to a bruised left leg, after he was barreled into on a
take-out slide at second base. The team said he's day to day.

Logan Morrison's RBI double in the eighth tied the game for
Florida, and Donnie Murphy's single sent home the go-ahead run
later in the inning. Coghlan's solo shot came with two outs in the
ninth and pushed the Marlins ahead 4-2.

The injury to Ramirez occurred when Bill Hall slid late and to
the side of second base, leaving both players in the dirt. Hall
finally got up while Ramirez remained down, writhing in pain and
beating the ground with his fist as trainers came to check on him.

The game was tied at 1-1 in the seventh before Chris Johnson's
hit to shallow left field scored Wallace and put Houston up 2-1.
Wallace doubled on a ball that bounced off the wall in left field
to set up the score.

Towles had a solo homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field gave
Houston a 1-0 lead in the third inning and Wallace's shot came in
the ninth.

I'm definitely not thinking to try to hit a homer there,
Wallace said. I'm just trying to have a good at-bat, let our team
see this guy a little bit. I'm trying to see some pitches and
trying to battle him. He left a pitch up and away, and I was just
able to put a good swing on it.

Carlos Lee was shaken up when he crashed into the left field
wall grabbing a fly ball hit from leadoff hitter Coghlan in the
first inning. He fell to his knees and remained there for a couple
of minutes while Bourn and a trainer checked on him. He finally got
up and was able to remain in the game.

NOTES: Astros SS Clint Barmes, on the DL with a broken left
hand, was cleared to play catch and swing Friday after X-rays
revealed that his hand was healing. ... Florida manager Edwin
Rodriguez is hoping RF Mike Stanton returns Saturday after missing
his sixth consecutive start with a strained hamstring. He's
getting better and better every (AP) -- day, Rodriguez said.

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