Astros 3, Brewers 2, 11 innings

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Lance Berkman and the Houston Astros are playing like they want to widen their lead in the NL Central.

Berkman homered in the top of the 11th to lead the Astros over the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 Wednesday night.

The victory kept the Astros four games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat the San Diego Padres earlier in the day.

“A one-game lead with two months to play is not a good hold,” Berkman said. “But, if you can get up five, six, seven games—something like that— then you’ve got a little bit of room for error.”

Berkman homered with two outs off Dan Kolb (0-1) for his 20th home run. It’s Berkman’s fourth consecutive year with at least 20.

The Astros have now won 12 of their last 14 games and sixth of their last seven.

“This is the time of year when you’ve really got to kick it into gear,” Berkman said. “The teams that are vying for playoff spots need to be playing their best baseball.”

The Astros trailed 2-1 before tying the game in the ninth off reliever Valerio De Los Santos.

Berkman led off with a double, went to third on Brad Ausmus’s sacrifice and scored on Eric Bruntlett’s sacrifice fly.

“It’s frustrating because when you take the lead like that, you want to close it out,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said after the Brewers dropped their eighth of 11. “With the depth of their bullpen, if you’re tied, you’re going to be out there for a while.”

Mike Gallo (1-0) pitched to two batters in the 10th for his first major league victory. The Astros purchased his contract from Triple-A New Orleans on June 28, and he has thrown seven scoreless innings in nine major league appearances.

After Berkman’s homer, Billy Wagner pitched the 11th for his 30th save in 33 chances. The Brewers had a man on third with one out, but Wagner struck out Wes Helms and, after an intentional walk to Eddie Perez, got pinch-hitter Keith Osik to foul out.

Houston’s ninth-inning rally cost Milwaukee starter Glendon Rusch his first victory since April 8.

Rusch was in control, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out a season-high nine and walked two. It would have been his first victory since beating Pittsburgh in his second start of the season. Rusch is 0-11 in his last 15 starts.

He gave up a run-scoring double to Richard Hidalgo in the third, but retired the next 13 batters.

Astros’ starter Roy Oswalt went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits in his fourth start since coming off the disabled list July 7. He struck out one and walked three.

Sexson’s solo shot in the third, his 27th, put the Brewers ahead 2-1.

Milwaukee scored first on Bill Halls’s run-scoring ground out in thesecond.


The Brewers drew 22,493 fans and passed the million mark in attendance in the 53rd home game. Their attendance is down 274,623 compared to the first 53 games of last year. … Biggio reached base for a 28th consecutive game when he led off the third with a single. … Bernie Mac, the star of Mr. 3000, a baseball movie currently being filmed at Miller Park, threw high and wide of the plate for the ceremonial first pitch. In the middle of the seventh inning, actors took over the field as Mac was filmed standing in the on-deck circle. … The Astros are 37-16 against teams with losing records and 19-29 againstteams with winning records.

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