Astros 2, Marlins 1

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MIAMI (AP)—The little things had been going the Florida Marlins’ way during their six-game winning streak.

But the Houston Astros got the breaks Friday night and beat the Marlins 2-1 on a home run that hit the foul pole and a run-scoring balk.

“It had to end sometime, we knew it would happen,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “It was one of those games. We’re used to those low-scoring games. We just didn’t get the breaks tonight like we’ve been getting and we didn’t earn them.”

The Marlins lost for only the second time in 10 games, and it dropped them to 2 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

The Astros rebounded from losing a series at Atlanta to maintain their 2 1/2 -game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cubs stayed 3 1/2 games behind.

Jeff Kent homered off the left-field foul pole in the second inning.

Jeff Bagwell wound up with a standup triple in the fourth when he hit a line drive that diving center fielder Juan Pierre could not catch. Bagwell scored when Josh Beckett was called for a balk with two outs.

Bagwell took a big lead off third base since Beckett was pitching from a full windup and Mike Lowell was not covering the bag.

“The pitcher gets nervous when he sees you get so that far down the line,” Bagwell said. “And who knows what happens, whether you get a balk or score on a wild pitch.”

Tim Redding (8-9) gave up one run and six hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Octavio Dotel pitched a scoreless eighth and Billy Wagner worked the ninth for his 32nd save in 35 chances.

Beckett (5-5) allowed two hits in seven innings, struck out nine and didn’t issue a walk.

“A 2-1 ballgame and a total of 10 hits, that’s a pitcher’s game,” Redding said. “Beckett had a bunch of strikeouts and I was fortunate to have quite a few myself and not a lot of walks, which is obviously a bonus.”

Beckett wasn’t impressed with his strikeout total.

“I threw strikes when I needed to but the main thing is we lost,” he said. “You can’t be too happy about that.”

He was also hard on himself because of the balk.

“I was thinking too much,” he said. “I single-handedly lost the game.”

The Marlins scratched for a run in the fifth, helped by a couple of odd plays along the foul lines.

With one out, Beckett squared to bunt Alex Gonzalez to second. As the ball rolled toward first base, Bagwell followed it along the line, waiting for it to roll foul—but it never did, giving Beckett a hit.

“It starts to go foul, and it’s going to go foul, and—`Oh no, it’s going to go fair,’ and then it dies,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said.

One out later, Luis Castillo slapped a ball up the first-base line that appeared to be rolling foul. But the ball angled back into fair territory, and Castillo beat Bagwell’s tag for an RBI single.

“I don’t think I’ve had two hits in one inning go that short a distance combined and result in a run,” Redding said. “That’s making good pitches and having unlucky results.”

Held hitless in three at-bats, Lowell’s 11-game hitting streak ended.

The Astros made it four straight wins over the Marlins. In their last meeting, the Astros wrapped up a three-game sweep in Houston on May 4, a weekbefore Marlins manager Jeff Torborg was fired and replaced by McKeon.

Notes

Beckett struck out RF Colin Porter three times. … Marlins reliever RHP Nate Bump made an acrobatic play on pinch-hitter Morgan Ensberg’s combacker in the eighth. He snagged the ball and skipped over a piece of a broken bat heading his way. … A broken bat flew six rows up into stands on the third base side when Marlins SS Alex Gonzalez popped out to end the second. Astros players coming off the field stopped in front of the dugout to see if a fan was hurt. Paramedics attended to a fan, but he appeared uninjured and stayed in hisseat to watch the rest of the game.

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