Ryan Rekindles the Old Flame, Strikes Out 16 Giants in 4-2 Win

In their biggest game this season, the Houston Astros called on their oldest pitcher--and their starter with the worst 1987 record--against San Francisco Wednesday night at Houston.

Nolan Ryan, though, reached back for his famous fastball, struck out 16 batters--12 of the last 13 he faced--in eight innings and kept the Astros alive in the National League West with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

A loss would have dropped the Astros 6 1/2 games behind the Giants with 23 to play, but the 40-year-old right-hander’s remarkable performance put them only 4 1/2 back.

Ryan, who gave up six hits, reached 4,500 strikeouts when he fanned Mike Aldrete to end the seventh inning. Ryan departed after striking out the side in the eighth.


He has 226 strikeouts this season, more than any other major league pitcher.

It was the most strikeouts ever for Ryan in a National League game. His previous high was 14 in 1968 when he was pitching for the New York Mets.

Ryan’s strikeout total Wednesday night was his biggest since 1977 when he struck out 19 while pitching for the Angels.

The last National League pitcher to strike out 16 was Dwight Gooden of the Mets in 1985.


Although his record is 7-14, this was the 20th time this season in which he has not given up more than two earned runs. Since June, he has made 12 starts with a 2-6 record and only once has he given up more than two earned runs. In that game he yielded three.

The Astros have limited Ryan to between 100 and 110 pitches per game. But this game was different. When he left after eight innings, he had thrown 131 pitches. He had also kept the Astros in contention. Although a two-run home run by Kevin Bass in the third inning was the big blow for the Astros, Ryan was given credit for the game-winning hit when his two-out single in the second inning drove in the first run of the game.