Astros 7, Phillies 1

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HOUSTON (AP)—Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman needled each other after a record-setting night.

Biggio and Berkman set an Astros mark by hitting consecutive home runs twice in one game, and Andy Pettitte won his fifth straight decision to lead Houston past the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 Monday.

“I don’t hit that many homers,” Biggio said. “But Lance gets paid a lot of money to hit them so it’s pretty cool for me to hit them at the same time.”

Berkman just chuckled at all that.

“The toughest ones to hit in back-to-backs are definitely the second ones,” he said. “Putting the icing on the cake is tough.”

The double back-to-back homers by the same players were the first in Houston history. It was the first time it happened in the major leagues since May 18 last season when Matt Holliday and Jeromy Burnitz did it for Colorado in Cincinnati.

It also was the 15th multihomer game of Biggio’s career, and Berkman’s 14th. But they were more impressed by the performance of Pettitte (8-7), who is 5-0 in seven starts since a 6-1 defeat June 14 at Baltimore. He is two wins short of his longest career win streak set in 2000 with the New York Yankees.

The left-hander allowed just Jimmy Rollins’ homer and seven hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking three. Pettitte lowered his ERA to 2.73, his lowest career mark through 20 starts.

“He was great tonight,” Berkman said of Pettitte, who had elbow surgery last Aug. 13. “I think it might have been his best start. I think it’s just remarkable what he has been able to do with a 75 percent elbow.”

Pettitte doesn’t want to place percentage marks on his comeback.

“I do feel very good,” he said. “I feel like I’m making my pitches. But every time I say something about how far I’ve come, I’ve had a bit of a setback so I don’t want to think about that.

“Obviously, from the start of the game, I felt good. I’m just happy I’m able to go out there each time.”

So is Astros manager Phil Garner.

“Andy’s in a very good groove,” Garner said. “He’s not only pitching confidently, he’s making pitches he wants to make.

“You never quite feel good playing with a lead against the Phillies with all their talent, but that just accentuates what Andy did.”

Pettitte got out of jams in the third and fourth. Rollins homered in the fifth, his eighth.

“Andy threw a terrific game and we had a couple of chances,” said Phillies bench coach Gary Varsho, who filled in for manager Charlie Manuel while he attended his sister’s funeral. “We hit some balls pretty well but we just couldn’t find the hole and we couldn’t keep it close.”

Ryan Howard was 1-for-3 against Pettitte and was picked off first base for the final out of the second inning.

“Andy threw really well tonight,” Howard said. “What else can you say? He was doing it to us. He’s got a pretty good move to first base. I hadn’t ever seen that before. He just got me and there’s nothing you can do.”

Jason Lane also connected for Houston, which has won eight of nine and 20 of 27.

The Phillies lost for only the fourth time in 13 games but have dropped seven of 10 on the road. They also have lost seven straight to the Astros and haven’t won in Houston since May 18, 2003.

The win moved the Astros a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race, three games behind Washington and Atlanta, who are tied for the NL East lead.

The Astros got to Cory Lidle (8-9) early when Biggio and Berkman connected in the first inning. Biggio then hit his 15th of the season in the third with Willy Taveras on for a 4-0 lead. Berkman followed with his 11th home run to make it 5-0.

Lidle lasted just five innings and lost his third straight start. He allowed seven runs, five earned, and seven hits—including five homers. Lidle gave up only nine home runs in his previous 20 starts. And he had allowed only one homer in 32 1-3 career innings against Houston coming in, spanning eight games and four starts.

“Cory usually doesn’t do this,” Berkman said. “Every time I’ve had to face him before, I’ve just groaned. We may have just caught him on an off night.”

Biggio reached on an error by second baseman Ramon Martinez in the bottom half. Two outs later, Lane hit his 15th homer for a 7-1 lead.

Notes

Manuel also will miss Tuesday’s game while attending the funeral of his sister, Janet, who passed away Saturday at age 64 in Virginia. … The back-to-back homers were the first for Houston since June 25 at Texas when Berkman and Morgan Ensberg did it. … In the third inning, Taveras got his major league-leading 49th infield single, one short of the club record set by Biggio in 1992. It was Taveras’ 20th bunt single. … Taveras then got his 24th stolen base, fourth in the NL.

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