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Astros Lose 8-1 in Tony DeFrancesco’s Debut as Interim Manager

The Houston Astros lost their first game under Tony DeFrancesco, who was appointed the team’s interim manager after Brad Mills was fired.

The Astros were beaten 8-1 by the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It was the fourth straight defeat for the Astros, whose 39-83 record is the worst in Major League Baseball. The Diamondbacks (62-59) are third in the National League West Division.

DeFrancesco was appointed from Houston’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City after Mills two days ago became the first major league manager to be fired this season.

“It didn’t work out the way I wanted it, but it was an honor to put the Astros uniform on and be part of the organization,” DeFrancesco told reporters. “It’s been a blur. When the game started I was in my own place out there. That’s where I belong.”

Mills led the Astros to a franchise-worst 56-106 mark last year after going 76-86 in his first season with Houston. Mills joined the Astros on Oct. 27, 2009, and left with a 171-274 record. Houston also fired hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham, replacing them on an interim basis with Ty Van Burkelo and Dan Radison respectively.

“I’ve been around these guys for a while now and they understand the philosophy,” DeFrancesco said of Van Burkelo and Radison.

No Extension

The team decided a week ago not to extend Mills’s contract past the end of this season, said Jeff Luhnow, who’s in his first year as general manager following Houston’s sale to Crane Capital Group’s Jim Crane.

“Once that decision was made and thinking through the logic, it made sense to make these changes sooner rather than later,” Luhnow said. “The mix just wasn’t working.”

The club doesn’t have a list of candidates for Mills’s permanent replacement and DeFrancesco will have a chance to get the job, Luhnow said.

“We need coaches and a manager that can inspire, lead and teach and get us to be the point where we need to be, which is to compete year in, year out for the division title,” Luhnow said.

After losing three games to the Diamondbacks, the Astros have six road games: three games against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning tomorrow, followed by three more in New York against the Mets.

“There’s potential in that clubhouse -- the problem is they’re inexperienced,” DeFrancesco said. “I know every guy in that clubhouse. They played for me in Oklahoma City. They gave a great effort and I was the guy congratulating them on coming up to the major leagues.”

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