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BASEBALL EXTRA / INTERLEAGUE PLAY

Astros Finally Win One

Interleague: Garcia's five-hitter helps Houston end losing streak at six games in 4-0 victory over Milwaukee.

September 04, 1997|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — The first complete game of Ramon Garcia's major-league career couldn't have come at a better time for the Houston Astros.

"This was pretty much a must-win for us," Jeff Bagwell said after Garcia pitched a five-hitter to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-0, Wednesday night and end the Astros' six-game losing streak.

Houston opened a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central over second-place Pittsburgh, which lost to Cleveland, 7-3.

"When you're in a hitting slump like we've been, the best way to stop it is to have your pitcher throw a shutout," Bagwell said.

The second-place Brewers dropped 3 1/2 games behind the Indians in the American League Central.

"We're not going to win all our games and Cleveland's not going to win all theirs," Milwaukee Manager Phil Garner said. "But you live and die with these games late in the season. We want to keep the gap close with Cleveland and put some distance between us and Chicago. After the win last night, we were at such a high point. Now we're at such a low point."

Garcia (6-8) struck out four and walked four, sending Milwaukee to only its third loss in 11 games. He also singled in a run against the Brewers, the team he played for last season.

"That didn't make it special," Garcia said. "It was big because we had lost six games in a row and because we are in first place.

"I am very happy to get my first shutout. This was one of my two best games I have pitched this year. I was very competent tonight and my sinker, fastball and change-up all worked."

Coming in, Garcia had one win in his previous six starts.

"I'm really proud of him. I know he's been disappointed when I've taken him out in the seventh or eighth innings," Houston Manager Larry Dierker said. "He's got a big heart. He wants to stay in and go all the way."

Scott Karl (10-11) lost for the first time in 10 starts since July 4. Karl, who had been 8-0 with a 2.45 earned-run average since the All-Star break, gave up four runs--three earned--and six hits in seven innings.

Tim Bogar hit a two-run double for Houston, which finished interleague play 4-11.

But the story was Garcia.

"I am really proud of him," Dierker said. "He had been disappointed a few times this year when I took him out late in the game. But he has a big heart and he really wants to go nine. It was a big pickup for our staff and a great night for him."

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