Villar helps Hooks steal a victory

Astros prospect goes 3-for-3, ties team mark with four thefts

By Robert Emrich / Special to | June 9, 2012 8:24 PM ET

Jonathan Villar had the kind of game any leadoff hitter would be proud of.

The Astros' No. 4 prospect went 3-for-3 with a walk, tied a team record with four stolen bases and scored twice Saturday as Double-A Corpus Christi rallied past Midland, 6-5.

Villar hit the ground running after drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning, stealing second and scoring three batters later on a single by top prospect Jonathan Singleton.

After singling home a run in the second, he stole second and third but was stranded to end the inning. He sacrificed inthe fourth, then reached on a bunt single in the sixth.

Villar singled again in his final at-bat in the ninth and scored the tying run for the Hooks.

"I was working on my hitting the last 10 days, swinging at strikes in the strike zone," Villar said through teammate Erick Abreu, who served as a translator. "I felt pretty good at the plate today."

The four steals matched the record set by Drew Sutton, who did it on July 19, 2009. The 21-year-old shortstop increased his Texas League-leading total to 28 thefts, one shy of tying the Hooks' single-season record. Jimmy Paredes swiped 29 bases last year and earned a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"I was pretty happy about it," Villar said. "I wanted to steal even more than that if I had the chance. I wanted to do it [steal in the ninth], but I knew it wasn't the right situation to steal."

Overall, the native of the Dominican Republic is batting .269 with three homers, 32 runs scored and 27 RBIs. Acquired from the Phillies in the July 2010 trade involving Roy Oswalt, Villar is on pace to surpass his career high of 45 stolen bases, set in 2010 between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Lancaster.

"I'm happy because the team is getting better," Villar said. "I know that we can do it and get it into the playoffs or even further than that. Everything is going pretty good."

Trailing, 5-4, the Hooks scored twice in the ninth for the walk-off win. After singling home Villar with the tying run, Jose Martinez raced home on a wild pitch by reliever Jonathan Ortiz (2-2).

"It feels awesome," Villar said. "We've been working very hard to get better and it's wonderful when we can come from behind and win a game like this one."

Drew Locke hit a two-run homer and went 3-for-5 in his season debut for Corpus Christi. Arcenio Leon (1-0) struck out three over two hitless innings to earn the win.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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