Lawless won't rely on matchups during games

Astros interim manager has Sipp pitch in save situation during win vs. A's

Lawless won't rely on matchups during games

OAKLAND -- Astros interim manager Tom Lawless eschewed standard baseball practice Friday night when he had left-hander Tony Sipp pitch the final two innings of the win over the A's instead of having closer Chad Qualls come in and get the final outs.

Lawless, whose win Friday improved him to 3-0 as manager, admitted most managers would have put their closer out there in the ninth at some point because that is their set role. Sipp pitched a perfect ninth inning with Qualls warming up in case he got in trouble.

"I'm sure if Tony would have gave up two runs, then I'm in deep water," Lawless said. "It worked out last night."

Lawless said he held a "powwow" in the dugout prior to the ninth inning with pitching coach Brent Strom to discuss strategy. One of the factors that played into the decision to stick with Sipp, in addition to keeping Oakland's left-handed hitters on the bench, was Qualls' struggles against the A's.

In six appearances against the A's this year, Qualls has allowed 14 hits and 11 runs in four innings and has three blown saves.

"The track record for Chad here against this team is not very good," Lawless said. "He struggled a little bit later in ballgames against this team, especially against left-handed hitters, so why put him in situations where he's uncomfortable? He is the closer and he's going to close the majority of the games. Last night was a situation, 'Let's leave those three hitters against Tony and see what happens.' Chad was going to come in if somebody got on. We were going to get him if we needed to. It worked out fine for us."

Lawless, who spent a lot of time on the bench as a player watching former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, said he's not big on matchups, such as left-handed pitchers have to face left-handed batters.

"If you can't go out there and pitch an inning and get three outs, then maybe you're not a Major League pitcher," he said. "That's why games are five hours long, because we drag them. Get three outs and play on."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.