Enough is enough: Garner, Purpura shown the door

HOUSTON – Manager Phil Garner and general manager Tim Purpura were fired Monday by the Houston Astros, less than two years after leading the team to its first World Series appearance.

Bench coach Cecil Cooper was appointed interim manager, and team president Tal Smith will serve as interim general manager.

“I felt this was the time for a change,” owner Drayton McLane said. “I just think we needed a fresh start.”

Houston slumped to 58-73 this year, nine games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs.

“We had really fallen into a pattern of so-so ball,” Garner said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “We were never able to put together the run, like we made in the previous two seasons. I think there were a number of reasons for that.”

Garner managed Milwaukee from 1992-99 and Detroit from 2000-02. He has a 985-1,054 career record as a major league manager, including 277-252 with the Astros.

McLane wants to find a new GM by the end of this season. Smith, 73, was the Astros’ president from 1976-80, then opened a consulting firm. McLane bought the Astros in 1993 and hired Smith as team president the following year.

“Nobody relishes these occasions,” Smith said. “Tim and Gar are good people. They cared very much about the Houston Astros. But as we all recognize, this is a performance-driven industry.”

The Astros came into this season with the fourth-best winning percentage in the majors since 1993. They have 31 games left and open a three-game home series against St. Louis on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Smith said, “and in the next several weeks, we’re going to sit down and examine all aspects of the operation. We will proceed with a (GM) search as soon as we possibly can and see if we can’t set things in motion for the future of this franchise.”

Cooper promoted first-base coach Jose Cruz to bench coach and moved bullpen coach Mark Bailey to the first-base position.

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