Michael Bourn can't remember ever stealing home before.

Sure, he's wanted to. Even studied the tendencies of catchers just in case the opportunity ever arose.

Finally, his chance came yesterday. Bourn took off on a double steal and became the latest player to swipe home, leading the visiting Houston Astros to a 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

He joined Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and the Phillies' Jayson Werth as players who have stolen home this season - although those two pulled off straight steals.

Bourn's came on a double steal in the first inning as Carlos Lee took off from first, drawing a throw from Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba down to second. As soon as Torrealba released the ball, Bourn bolted for the plate and scored easily.

"I knew if he was throwing through I was going," said Bourn, one of baseball's fastest runners.

The Rockies took a gamble on trying to nab the much-slower Lee, who homered later in the game. But the All-Star outfielder beat the throw with a nifty slide into second.

"He can steal a few bases," Bourn said. "That's how he gets you, he'll lull you to sleep and he's gone."

Wandy Rodriguez certainly lulled the Rockies' hitters to sleep, striking out a career-high 11. It was the most strikeouts for a Houston lefthander since Randy Johnson fanned 12 on Sept. 18, 1998, at Pittsburgh.

Despite allowing just two earned runs in seven innings, Rodriguez saw his ERA climb slightly to 1.90 - still among the lowest in the majors.

"I felt strong," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I felt very good."

Bourn felt confident at the plate, tying a career high with four hits and finishing with two stolen bases.

His decision to swipe home was made in a split second.

"I [saw] it out of his hand," Bourn said. "I was going."

In other games:

* At Chicago, Bobby Scales drove in four runs with two doubles and Ryan Dempster excelled with both his arm and bat as the Cubs took advantage of 10 walks in an 11-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Dempster (3-2) allowed two runs and three hits over seven innings. He also drove in two runs with a double and a single as the Cubs completed their first home sweep of the Padres since 1999.

* At Milwaukee, Prince Fielder hit a go-ahead home run and Dave Bush (2-0) turned in another strong start as the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins with a 5-3 victory.

* At Pittsburgh, Colby Rasmus' two-run homer in the second inning gave St. Louis' slumping offense a lift and the Cardinals avoided being swept by the last-place Pirates, getting a strong effort from their bullpen in a 5-1 victory.

The Cardinals had lost five consecutive games in Pittsburgh and were in jeopardy of being swept in a three-game series for the first time since Sept. 12-14, also in PNC Park. Depleted by injuries, St. Louis had lost four of five.

Cardinals starter Mitchell Boggs didn't pitch long enough to get the victory, but helped out an offense that was held to three runs in the first two games of the series by lining a double for his first major league hit and scoring on Shane Robinson's sacrifice fly in the fifth.


* Major League Baseball reduced the suspension of Chicago Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley from two games to one.

Bradley had appealed the original suspension, which he received for arguing with umpire Larry Vanover after being called out on strikes with the bases loaded in a game against St. Louis on April 16. The umpiring crew contended that Bradley's hat made slight contract with Vanover. *