Jeff Bagwell is glad his latest milestone is behind him.
The newest member of the 400-homer club looks to lead Houston to its sixth straight win as the Astros open a two-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Bagwell homered twice to become the 35th player to reach 400 homers Sunday, leading the Astros to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
“I’m glad I got it over with,” Bagwell said. “More important, I’m just glad that we won. It just means that I’ve played a long time.”
The 13-year veteran drove in Houston’s first four runs as the NL Central-leading Astros completed their eighth series sweep of the season. They also have won 10 of their last 11.
Bagwell connected in the fourth and sixth innings off Danny Graves to reach the plateau. He moved ahead of Dale Murphy (398) and Al Kaline on the career list. Hall of Famer Duke Snider is next up in 34th place with 407.
“He had a big game for us,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said of Bagwell. “He had the sacrifice fly and the two-run homer and the solo homer, and we needed every one of them.”
The Pirates had lost four of six before Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, salvaging a split of their four-game set. Kip Wells won at home for the first time in more than a year, and Aramis Ramirez homered despite an injury that nearly kept him out of the lineup.
Ramirez was lifted from Saturday’s game with a badly swollen and bruised ankle after fouling a pitch off his leg. The Pirates weren’t optimistic he could play Sunday.
“He was limping somewhat and (the ankle) still was a little tender,” Bucs manager Lloyd McClendon said, “but he’s a tough kid and he wanted to go out there.”
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Pirates - 4th place, 9 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Redding (6-8, 3.80 ERA). Redding has won two straight since losing four of five starts. The 25-year-old is coming off one of his best outings of the season, scattering five hits over six scoreless innings of a 5-2 win over the Pirates on July 13. He struck out five and walked one. Redding is 1-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Fogg (5-4, 4.68 ERA). Fogg suffered his first loss since June 8 with the July 13 setback to the Astros. The 26-year-old right-hander, who was 3-0 with a 5.06 ERA between defeats, allowed three runs and five hits over just two innings—easily his worst outing of the season. Fogg is 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA in five career starts against Houston.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Hidalgo, .330 avg.; Berkman, 19 HRs and 64 RBIs and 64 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Pirates - Jason Kendall, .310 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 16 HRs; Ramirez, 67 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 57 runs and 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 9-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Bagwell leads active players who have spent their entire career with one team in home runs, two ahead of the Chicago White Sox’s Frank Thomas. … OF Berkman is hitting .348 (16-for-46) over his last 14 games with five homers and 16 RBIs. … The Astros are 49-2 this season when leading after eight innings. Pirates - All-Star RHP Mike Williams, who began his career in Philadelphia, was traded back to the Phillies on Sunday for a minor leaguer. … C Kendall had a two-run single in the second inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. He is batting .389 (37-for-95) during the run. … 3B Ramirez had seven hits in the final three games of the series with the Brewers despite going 0-for-2 Saturday. He has 20 RBIs in his last 13 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 22-26 on the road; Pirates - 21-28 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL. Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.
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