Astros 6, Brewers 1

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Cincinnati Reds got almost as many cheers as the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The fans had plenty reason to get rowdy at what was happening on the field as Morgan Ensberg hit two home runs and the Astros moved into a tie for the NL Central lead, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 Thursday night.

“This is exactly where we want to be, in control of our destiny,” Ensberg said. “We don’t have to depend on anybody.”

Other cheering was coming from some of the 27,934 fans watching the left-field scoreboard and others crowded around TV monitors in the concession areas to see the Reds finish up a 9-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“When you have a 2-0 count with no outs and they all stand up, you figure something good is happening in our favor somewhere,” Ensberg said.

The Astros end the regular season with three more games at home against last-place Milwaukee. The Cubs finish with a three-game series at home against Pittsburgh.

If the Astros and Cubs tie for the division title, a one-game playoff would be played Monday at Wrigley Field.

The Astros entered the game with four losses in their previous five games. They still had enough to overcome the light-hitting Brewers, who haven’t won a season series from Houston since 1997.

Ensberg hit home runs in the fifth and seventh innings for his first two-homer game of his career. He has 24 for the season.

The Brewers had little to cheer about.

“We’re not thinking of this as a spoiler’s roll, we just want to finish strong and go into spring training with some momentum,” Wes Helms said. “We don’t care who goes to the playoffs, but it’s a new race now. These guys are really going to bring it to us like it’s a World Series.”

Ensberg’s first homer was an opposite field shot that barely stayed inside the right-field line. He thrust a fist into the air as he rounded first base.

Later, he chastised himself for the display.

“I was happy it went out but it hit the pole, I lost my composure a little bit right there,” Ensberg said. “You want to stay under control. I don’t play as well when I get too emotional.”

Craig Biggio gave the Astros a quick 1-0 lead off Doug Davis (3-1) with a leadoff homer in the first inning. Biggio extended his NL record for leadoff homers to 34 and it was his fourth of the season.

“We’ve been doing this for 3 1/2 weeks,” Biggio said. “We know what’s at stake. We got out of a hole tonight and took care of business. Now we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Richie Sexson hit his 43rd homer off Tim Redding (10-14), tying it at 1. Sexson needs two homers to tie for the club record in homers—Sexson hit 45 in 2001 and Gorman Thomas did it in 1979.

Davis walked Lance Berkman to start the fourth. Berkman moved up on a groundout by Brad Ausmus and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Adam Everett.

The Astros got two more runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Ausmus and a sacrifice fly by Biggio.

Redding pitched 5 1-3 innings. He allowed four hits and one earned run, striking out four and walking two.

Davis went six innings and tied a career high with eight strikeouts. He allowed six hits and three earned runs.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Sexson said. “Obviously these teams are in the race because they are pretty good. We’ve got three more games tomake it tough on them. They have to do everything they can to win.”


Milwaukee’s Scott Podsednik needs to score three runs to become the fourth rookie to hit .300, score 100 runs and get 40 steals. … Sexson has 96 walks and needs three to tie Jeromy Burnitz (2000) for the club record. … Houston is 17-8 against the Brewers at Minute Maid Park. … Milwaukee’s Keith Ginter left the game after the third inning with a strained side muscle. … Scott Podsednik needs to score three runs to become the fourth rookie since 1900 to hit .300, score 100 runs and get 40 steals. The others are IchiroSuzuki (2001), Shoeless Joe Jackson (1911) and Jimmy Barrett (1900).

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