Astros 5, Pirates 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Tim Redding was already tired in the third inning. Once he got out of his toughest jam, he had plenty left to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Redding pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and Lance Berkman homered, leading the Houston Astros over Pittsburgh 5-2 Sunday.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the third for Aramis Ramirez on a pair of hits and a walk.

“My heart was racing then and I was taking real short breaths,” Redding said. “I couldn’t calm myself down.

“(Catcher) Brad (Ausmus) came out and asked how I was feeling and I said, `I am tired.’ I felt I had hit a wall. But I was fortunate enough to get Ramirez to fly out and I was able to pull things back together after that.”

Redding (6-8) scattered five hits in winning his second straight start following a four-game losing streak. He struck out five and walked one as the Astros held onto the NL Central lead heading into the All-Star break.

“I didn’t feel very good warming up in the bullpen before the game,” Redding said. “But I’ve learned that even when you don’t feel good in the bullpen, you can still come out smelling like roses when you go in the game. I felt fine when I was on the mound.”

Houston manager Jimy Williams took Redding out after he gave up a leadoff single to Randall Simon in the seventh on his 96th pitch of the game.

“To me, he had done his job at that point,” Williams said. “He had just gotten through running the bases (after a sixth-inning double) and he had nearly 100 pitches. He has pitched back-to-back strong games for us and the bullpen has come in and done its job.”

Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless seventh, and Octavio Dotel gave up a two-run homer to Ramirez in the eighth. Billy Wagner got three straight outs for his 25th save in 28 chances.

The Pirates were impressed by Redding.

“He threw real good today,” Jason Kendall said. “He kept the ball down and stayed in there. When you keep the ball down (in Minute Maid Park), you’re going to do all right.

“He used all of his pitches, but nothing really stood out. He just used the right pitch when he needed to. He mixed them all in there and changed locations. When you do that you win.”

Josh Fogg (5-4) went only two innings and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks.

“Josh didn’t have any command today,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He fell behind a lot of hitters and he left the ball up. He just didn’t have it today. We would have liked to have won today. It was a chance to take two of three and they are a very good team at home. But today their pitcher just pitched a little better than ours and they executed.”

Fogg ran into control problems in the first inning, walking Jeff Bagwell and Berkman and hitting Richard Hidalgo and Morgan Ensberg with pitches in consecutive at-bats. The latter drove in the first run, and the Astros made it 2-0 on Craig Biggio’s RBI single in the second.

Berkman’s 17th home run leading off the third tied him with Bagwell and Ensberg for the team lead.

Hidalgo helped protect the 3-0 lead in the fourth when he threw out Randall Simon trying to stretch a single into a double with a long throw from the right-field corner. It was Hidalgo’s 12th assist of the season, second among major league outfielders to Jose Cruz Jr.’s 13 for San Francisco.

Simon was playing his first game after serving a three-game suspension for hitting a Milwaukee Brewers’ sausage mascot with his bat last Wednesday.

Bagwell had an RBI single in the fourth, and Geoff Blum added a run-scoringsingle in the sixth.


Kendall extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games. … Blum’s hitting streak reached 15 games. … Bagwell needs one home run to tie Dale Murphy for 34th on the career list with 398. He needs three to become the firstAstros player to reach 400.

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