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Astros Finally Living Up to Expectations

July 05, 2002|From Associated Press

This is how the Houston Astros expected to play all season. They might soon find out if they've waited until it was too late.

Lance Berkman drove in three runs and the Astros, finally playing like the National League Central contenders they were projected to be, won for the seventh time in nine games by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-6, Thursday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The victory enabled them to remain 7 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Berkman's two-run double highlighted a five-run third inning against Joe Beimel (1-3). He added another run-scoring double in the fifth as the Astros overcame a pair of two-run homers by Brian Giles.

"This was a good time to pick it up offensively because our rotation is a little dinged up right now," Berkman said

Berkman leads the majors with 78 runs batted in, nine in his last three games. He drove in five runs in a 6-5 victory Tuesday in Cincinnati and added another RBI in an 11-4 win over the Reds Wednesday.

Milwaukee 5, Cincinnati 4--The Brewers lost their first seven games against the Reds this season, getting outscored 48-20, and were only 2-46 when trailing after eight innings before they rallied in their last at-bat against Danny Graves at Cincinnati.

Trying to protect a 4-3 lead, Graves (3-3) gave up singles to Robert Machado and Alex Sanchez. With two out, Eric Young then doubled to the gap in left-center with both runners scoring easily.

Graves blew a save for the sixth time in 31 chances, leaving Cincinnati with its third straight loss. The Reds have lost 14 of 19 home games.

Atlanta 5, Chicago 1--The Braves won for the 13th time in 15 games at Atlanta and improved to 54-31, tying them with Seattle for the best record in the majors. The Cubs lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Mark Prior (2-2) gave up only three hits in six innings but allowed a leadoff single to Chipper Jones in the bottom of the seventh and hit Andruw Jones with a 1-2 pitch. After Vinny Castilla popped to third, Javy Lopez lined a double off the base of the wall in right-center for a 2-1 lead.

Montreal 2, Philadelphia 1--Brad Wilkerson hit a two-out, two-run homer off Jose Mesa in the top of the ninth inning at Philadelphia, the Expos' first hit since the fourth inning.

Mesa (2-5) relieved to start the ninth and walked Brian Schneider. After Mike Mordecai sacrificed and with Jose Macias at the plate, Philadelphia tried a hidden-ball trick with second baseman Tomas Perez tagging Schneider.

Second-base umpire Brian Runge called Schneider out, but after Montreal Manager Frank Robinson talked to crew chief Tim McClelland, who was behind the plate, the call was reversed, with McClelland ruling time had been called.

Florida 9, New York 7--The Marlins defeated Al Leiter for the third time this season after having won only once in their previous nine games against him. At Miami, Marlin starter Julian Tavarez (7-4) won for the sixth time in his last nine starts.

Mike Piazza hit his 18th homer for the Mets, giving him three home runs in his last two games. Tavarez yielded five runs and nine hits in six innings. Leiter (8-7) gave up six runs--one earned--and eight hits in five innings.

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