Astros 5, Expos 4

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MONTREAL (AP)—The Houston Astros finally came from behind in the ninth inning to win.

Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro singled home the go-ahead run to cap a three-run ninth, and Houston beat Montreal 5-4 Sunday to end the Expos’ winning streak at a season-high seven.

The Astros, who cut their wild-card race deficit to six games, ended a four-game losing streak, winning for just the second time in their last eight games. Houston had been 0-51 when trailing after eight innings.

“Hopefully, we’ll use that as a springboard for some more kind of wins like that,” Astros manager Phil Garner said.

The Astros came back to tie it the ninth on Friday, and took a lead in the 12th before losing 6-5.

Montreal led 4-2 when Jeff Kent and Michael Lamb hit consecutive one-out singles to chase Livan Hernandez, who had allowed Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer in the first.

Jason Lane hit a run-scoring single off Luis Ayala (4-8), and Jose Vizcaino tied the score with a groundout to shortstop. Palmeiro then singled to drive in the go-ahead run.

“No doubt about it, we’re just looking for something to get us going,” Palmeiro said. “Maybe a couple of things can go our way to get on a hot streak.”

Dan Micelli (5-6) allowed one run in two innings, and Brad Lidge got three outs for his 13th save in 15 chances.

“Obviously, we were long overdue for something like this, and it feels great to come back and salvage at least a game,” Lidge said. “Our guys did a fantastic job of never quitting today.”

Montreal lost for just the sixth time in its last 22 games.

“It’s a bad way to end this homestand, but it was a 5-1 homestand and we ended up playing really well,” Expos catcher Brian Schneider said.

Hernandez allowed four runs and six hits in 8 1-3 innings, while Astros starter Pete Munro gave up three runs and five hits in six-plus innings.

Beltran’s 14th home run since the Astros acquired from Kansas City on June 24 put Houston ahead in the first, and Munro kept the Expos scoreless until the sixth, when Nick Johnson homered for the second straight game.

Jose Vidro tied it at 2 with an RBI single off Dan Miceli in the seventh. Montreal loaded the bases with two outs, and Alex Gonzalez grounded to second baseman Jeff Kent, who threw to shortstop Eric Bruntlett to force Terrmel Sledge. The rookie’s hard slide to the outside of the base upended the Bruntlett, preventing him from throwing to first as Endy Chavez scored the go-ahead run from third.

“It was a lot of hand-clapping,” Sledge said of the reception he got from his teammates when he returned to the dugout. “They noticed and they appreciate that you’re trying to help the whole team win, not just yourself.”

Johnson, who hit his second career grand slam in Saturday’s 8-3 win, followed with an RBI single to increase the lead to 4-2.

Gonzalez misplayed Lance Berkman’s grounder in the fourth, ending Montreal’s team record-tying 10-game errorless streak.


Bruntlett, who committed two of Houston’s three errors, had two hits for his second career multihit game. … Beltran has 29 homers overall, matching his total with Kansas City in 2002. … The Expos also went 10 games without an error from Aug. 17-27, 1977.

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