Houston puts brakes on Tiger win streak

Houston right-hander Brad Lincoln hurled eight brilliant innings and held No. 8 LSU to a season-low five hits as the Tigers saw their win streak end at nine games with a 5-3 loss to the Cougars on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

The series continues Saturday at noon, followed by the finale at 1 p.m. Sunday. Junior right-hander Derik Olvey (3-0, 0.39) puts his perfect record on the line against senior left-hander Matt Farrington (1-2, 3.94) in Game 2.

Live audio and video of both contests are available to members of the Geaux Zone powered by USAgencies on www.LSUsports.net.

LSU (11-2) was outhit by Houston Friday night, 14-5. The Cougars (8-6) have won five out of their last six games.

Lincoln (3-1), ranked as the 13th-best junior prospect by Baseball America, allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers, walked one and struck out seven.

"He is a first-rounder and very good," said head coach Smoke Laval. "Coach Rayner (Noble) said after the ballgame that it was the hardest and best that he has seen him throw since he has been there. We competed and hung in there but he was impressive."

Lincoln responded from his outing last season in Houston, in which LSU tagged him for eight runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings of work.

Lincoln's fastball reached 95 mph early on, and he continued to hit 90 mph consistently before he exited in the eighth.

Left fielder Steven Waguespack collected three of the LSU's five hits, belting his first career homer in the fourth and collecting an RBI single in the ninth. Catcher Matt Liuzza had the other solo blast in the eighth.

The Cougars were paced by second baseman Isa Garcia who had four hits, including an RBI triple in the ninth.

LSU starter Clay Dirks (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season and did not make it out of the fourth inning. Dirks worked 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out two.

The Tigers fell behind in the first inning as Houston took advantage of a leadoff walk from Dirks. Following a fielder's choice, shortstop Dustin Kingsbury lined a single up the middle to give the Cougars an early 1-0 advantage.

"He (Dirks) made some bad pitches to the good hitters and usually he does the opposite," said Laval. "He makes a mistake and it is usually a guy that is not a tremendous hitter. Kingsbury, who you know can hit, had a couple."

Lincoln established his presence early, facing the minimum in the first two frames, which included striking out the side looking in order in the second.

LSU nearly manufactured a run in the third without a benefit of a hit. Liuzza reached on a one-out throwing error by third baseman Bryan Pounds and then advanced to third on a wild pitch to second baseman Jason Ogata. Ogata struck out swinging but took first on the wild pitch. The threat ended just as quickly as it started when centerfielder Bruce Sprowl grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

Houston then extended the score to 3-0 and gave Dirks an early exit in the fourth. A hit-batsman and three consecutive singles, highlighted by right fielder Chris Joseph's RBI liner to center, ended Dirks' night.

Right-hander Nolan Cain inherited the one-out jam with runners at first and second and immediately issued a walk to load the bases.

Cain was one pitch away from walking in a run to centerfielder Bryan Tully but battled back to record a strikeout. LSU avoided any further trouble when Cain finished off the inning with a strikeout of Kingsbury.

Lincoln picked up where he left off when he took the mound in the fourth, fanning right fielder Quinn Stewart and designated hitter J.T. Wise on a combination of curve balls and fastballs. Then, the Tigers finally broke through with their first hit in a big way as Waguespack crushed Lincoln's first-pitch offering over "The Intimidator" billboard in right field to make it a 3-1 contest.

Cain worked through the side in order in the sixth, and LSU put its first leadoff man in its half of the inning when Ogata reached on Pounds' second error of the game. Lincoln looked rattled, issuing a 3-0 count to Sprowl with a runner on and nobody out. The Tigers' threat didn't last long when Sprowl lined out to center and the next two batters were easily retired in order.

Right-hander Edgar Ramirez, in relief of Cain, kept LSU within striking distance with a key strikeout with a runner in scoring position in the eighth.

Liuzza pulled the Tigers even closer with a leadoff solo blast to start the eighth, cutting the deficit to 3-2, but the Cougars tacked on two more runs in the ninth.

Garcia delivered the key hit in the ninth with an RBI triple off of right-hander Jonathan Wilhite, LSU's fourth pitcher of the contest.

Sophomore Aaron Brown came on to close the ninth and preserve Lincoln's outing. Brown overcame an error and a Waguespack RBI single to earn the save in UH victory.

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