Astros 5, Marlins 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Morgan Ensberg hadn’t tried to pull off a squeeze play in a long time.

“I squeezed a few times in college,” he said. “I hadn’t done it as a pro.”

Ensberg was successful with his bunt, driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to lead the Houston Astros over the Florida Marlins 5-2 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

“I wasn’t surprised we used it then,” Ensberg said. “That’s definitely a play that can be used there.”

With the score 2-2, Brad Ausmus singled off Tim Spooneybarger (1-1) leading off the eighth and took third on Richard Hidalgo’s single.

Ensberg bunted toward third to drive in Ausmus and reached on the single.

“I wasn’t nervous or anything,” Ensberg said. “You really concentrate on the pitcher bringing his arm all the way back to be sure he isn’t throwing over to third. The most important thing for us in that situation is to not show it too early.”

The bunt caught Florida off guard.

“We were looking for it, but not on that pitch,” Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. “We were trying to figure out what count they might use it on, and we were one pitch off. They did it in spring training so we knew they could use it.”

After the score, Lance Berkman reached on an infield single to first. When Lee hesitated and then made a bad throw to first for an error, Hidalgo scored for a 4-2 lead. Braden Looper relieved and Jose Vizcaino hit an RBI grounder.

Many of the Marlins were surprised by the squeeze.

“It was a great play,” Derrek Lee said. “The hitter got the bunt down and the runner timed it perfect and it worked out good for them.”

Brad Lidge (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two. Billy Wagner pitched a one-hit ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.

Juan Pierre was 4-for-4 for the Marlins, and Richard Hidalgo was 3-for-3 with a homer for the Astros.

Astros starter Roy Oswalt allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings, while Florida’s Miguel Tejera gave up two runs and four hits in six innings. It was just the second start this season for Tejera, who has made 11 relief appearances.

“It was a tough game,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said. “Both starters pitched extremely well. Roy did a good job. We talk about the starter setting the tone for the game and he did that. He gave us seven quality innings, not just good innings.”

Alex Gonzalez’s eighth homer put Florida ahead in the fourth, but Hidalgo hit a two-run homer in the bottom half. Pierre tied the score with an RBIsingle in the fifth.


Luis Castillo’s single in the fifth gave him a 16-game hitting streak, the longest currently in the NL. … It was the first time the Marlins have been swept since last Sept. 17-19 at Montreal. … It was the first Astros sweep of the season and their first over the Marlins since April 30-May 2,1999.

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