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Berkman's Homer in Ninth Beats Giants

Astros score five times in their final at-bat to hand San Francisco a 7-3 loss. Hermanson blows save.

September 24, 2004|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Lance Berkman hit a three-run home run off Dustin Hermanson in the ninth inning, and the Houston Astros rallied from a late three-run deficit for a 7-3 victory Thursday night over the San Francisco Giants.

Carlos Beltran had three hits for the Astros, who gave their flagging playoff hopes a boost by scoring five runs in the ninth.

Houston was in danger of being swept and falling four games behind the Giants in the National League wild-card race. Instead, the Astros are 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs, who took a half a game lead over San Francisco for the wild card.

The Giants lost for only the second time in 11 games despite 7 1/3 dominant innings by Jason Schmidt, who was denied his 17th victory by Hermanson's third blown save of the season.

After falling behind, 3-0, Houston scored on Berkman's run-scoring single in the seventh and pinch-hitter Morgan Ensberg's grounder in the eighth.

Beltran and Jeff Bagwell led off the ninth with singles -- including Bagwell's dribbler, which improbably stayed fair down the third-base line.

Berkman followed with his 29th homer, a skyscraping shot that barely reached the front row of the arcade on top of the right-field wall.

Hermanson (6-7) and Giant Manager Felipe Alou were ejected when the reliever hit Jeff Kent with the next pitch. Both clubs had been warned after a bench-clearing incident in the third, when rookie Brandon Backe nearly hit Barry Bonds with a low pitch.

The Astros then added two more runs on Jason Lane's RBI single and Raul Chavez's sacrifice bunt.

Though there were no punches or ejections in the third, Bonds was incensed by the low throw, gesturing emphatically toward Backe and nearly sticking his fingers in the mask of home plate umpire Mike Reilly.

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