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Tucker stars in Corpus Christi's Minute Maid game

Outfielder homers twice in first Texas League regular-season tilt at Astros' park

Special to

HOUSTON -- Astros fans on Tuesday got a glimpse of the future. And it looks promising. Especially for Corpus Christi's Preston Tucker, the Astros' No. 20 prospect, who homered twice in a losing effort.

The club's Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks hosted the San Antonio Missions in the first regular-season Texas League game played at Minute Maid Park, before 5,336 fans. The offensive talent was displayed by both teams, combining for six home runs and 32 hits.

Yeison Asencio's two-run, one-out triple scored two runs in the top of the ninth off Andrew Robinson (4-2) to give San Antonio the lead for good, and the Missions went on to a 15-14 win over the Hooks.

"Today was special," said Hooks manager Keith Bodie. "Both teams played at another level. We've had some battles with San Antonio. Neither team wanted to lay down."

The game wasn't decided until Tucker lined out sharply to a diving Cody Overbeck at first base with the bases loaded to end the game off closer Frank Garces, making a winner of Jerry Sullivan (3-2). Tucker's eighth-inning solo home run, measured at 436 feet, was his league-leading 17th and broke a 12-12 tie.

Tucker was 2-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs in what should be the first of many games he'll play at Minute Maid Park.

"It's something to look forward to," said Tucker. "It was cool playing here tonight and it definitely gives you a positive outlook and hopefully moving up the ladder.

"None of us were disappointed [playing at Minute Maid Park]. We thought it was awesome. The best ballpark I've been to. Hopefully I can play here a lot more, a good hitter's eye. I liked it. I felt comfortable."

On a night San Antonio's Reymond Fuentes scored three times and had four of the Missions' 17 hits and the Missions' Casey McElroy had five RBIs and one his team's three home runs, it was Tucker who wowed the pro-Hooks crowd.

"He put on a show tonight," said Bodie. "He showed what type of player he is. He's a pleasure to be around."

Hooks (31-33) second baseman Jio Mier had three hits and three runs and catcher Rene Garcia had three hits. For San Antonio (33-31), Asencio had three RBIs and he, along with McElroy, Rymer Liriano and Hagerty, had two hits each.

It didn't take long for the home crowd to have something to cheer about. Tucker hit his 16th home run leading off the bottom of the second, part of a four-run explosion. Jonathan Meyer's first home run of the season, a three-run blast into the Crawford Boxes in left field, tied the game, 8-8, in the fifth.

But the Missions, and San Diego Padres faithful, also have to be encouraged about the future. McElroy, Hagerty and Lee Orr all homered off Alex Sogard in the Missions' six-run fifth inning that gave them an 8-5 lead. Leadoff hitter Fuentes reached base safely five times.

Hooks first baseman Telvin Nash singled in two runs and center fielder Delino DeShields, who left the game after four innings, singled in two runs in the second inning with a stolen base. DeShields, the Astros' first-round pick in the 2010 Draft, was taken out of the game after not running out a popup to first base in the fourth inning.

DeShields' replacement, Leo Heras, had a three-run triple in the Hooks' six-run fifth that gave the Hooks an 11-8 lead.

McElroy tied the game 5-5 with his three-run home run to deep right field off Sogard, who was facing his first batter after replacing starter Mike Hauschild. The Missions took a 6-5 lead in the fifth on Hagerty's sixth home run, into the left-field Crawford Boxes. Orr's sixth homer of the season hit the foul pole in right field.

The left-handed-hitting Tucker, who played three positions on Tuesday -- left, right and first base -- connected on a full count off right-hander Josh Geer for a solo home run over the right-field wall on a hard liner, giving the Hooks a 1-0 lead.

The Hooks banged out 15 hits and excelled on defense. Nolan Fontana displayed a strong arm at shortstop, and catcher Garcia picked off a runner at second base in the fourth inning with the Hooks holding a 4-2 lead. Garcia also laid down a perfectly placed bunt for a single that loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, prior to Heras' bases-clearing triple off Adys Portillo.

Hauschild was staked to an early 4-0 lead, but he couldn't make it through the fifth inning. In four-plus innings, Hauschild allowed four runs and six hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Geer, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 College Classic at Minute Maid Park while pitching for Rice, also pitched four-plus innings. He was tagged for seven runs and seven hits.

Richard Dean is a contributor to

Houston Astros