Astros 4, Brewers 3

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Roy Oswalt was not in the mood to celebrate his win.

Oswalt allowed five hits in seven strong innings for his sixth victory in his last seven decisions and Aubrey Huff and Morgan Ensberg homered to help the Houston Astros stay close in the NL wild card race with a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.

The Astros (69-71) came in five games behind the San Diego Padres for the wild card with 22 games to play in their bid for a third consecutive playoff appearance.

Oswalt (12-8) tied his season-high with nine strikeouts. His only real trouble came when he hit Damian Miler with the bases loaded to force in the tying run in the seventh. Miller dropped to the ground and laid motionless for a few moments. Astros catcher Brad Ausmus immediately knelt over him as the Brewers’ trainer raced out to home plate. Miller walked off the field.

“Why would I want to hit somebody with the bases loaded?” Oswalt asked, and then explained how the pitch sailed on him. “I got half way through the pitch, and I don’t know, I just let it go, and it rode up and in. When I first threw it, I thought I threw it behind him.”

Oswalt said that errant pitch may be a result of getting hit in the right wrist by a line drive off the bat of the Chicago CubsRonny Cedeno four starts ago.

“I just got right through my delivery and my wrist just popped,” Oswalt said. “When it locked up, I just let the ball go.”

Oswalt said the next two pitches felt fine as pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo hit into a double play to end the inning.

Miller said that he was more scared than anything.

“I remember Ausmus standing over me,” said Miller, who has a Grade 1 concussion. “He was pretty concerned.

“Right now I feel OK. It’s a little sore where I got hit.”

Miller missed five games after taking a foul tip to the mask against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 24

Huff’s solo shot off Jose Capellan (2-2) in the top of the eighth gave Oswalt the win and helped the Astros improve to 9-3 in their last 12 games.

“To go out there today to get a big win for Roy is huge,” Huff said.

Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect eighth inning and Brad Lidge struck out three batters for his 31st save in 36 chances.

Oswalt surrendered Corey Hart’s home run with two out in the second and then retired the next 10 batters before Miller led off the sixth with a single. Ben Sheets reached on a fielder’s choice and raced home when Brady Clark’s grounder down the third base line bounced off the base of the grandstand wall and sharply away from left fielder Luke Scott.

Sheets allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and left the game with a 2-1 lead and two out in the seventh after giving up a double to Willy Taveras.

“My pitch count was up,” said Sheets, who threw 112 pitches. I’m sure that was a big factor.”

Brian Shouse took over and gave up a pinch-hit homer to Ensberg. It was his 21st home run this season and third career pinch-hit homer.

“That was a great piece of hitting by Ensberg,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “He’s a dead pull hitter, and he took a pitch that was out over the plate the other way.”

Huff’s sacrifice fly in the first gave the Astros a 1-0 lead, but Hart tied the game in the second.


Roger Clemens (6-4, 2.27 ERA) will miss his start Saturday against the Brewers. He left Monday night’s game at Philadelphia after five innings with a strained right groin. “He’s just not ready to go,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. Clemens might not pitch until the team returns to Houston after this six-game road trip ends. … The Brewers claimed RP Chris Spurling off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on Friday and transferred RP Matt Wise to the 60-day disabled list. Wise underwent season-ending surgery Thursday on his right elbow. … Adam Everett snapped an 0-for-11 streak with a double in the second.

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