Astros 5, White Sox 2

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CHICAGO (AP)—The Astros got along just fine after Lance Berkman and Phil Garner got booted from the game.

Hunter Pence made a highlight reel slide to score the go-ahead run and the Astros got some timely hitting in the late innings Friday night to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in a meeting of two struggling teams who faced off in the 2005 World Series.

“We are 2-0 when I get ejected,” Berkman said, trying to inject some humor.

Berkman, who is appealing a two-game suspension announced Friday by major league baseball for his outburst following an ejection earlier this week, was tossed again in the fourth inning for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Berkman had to be stopped from going back to the plate by Carlos Lee as Garner argued. Moments later Garner was also ejected.

“I clearly wasn’t talking to him. I was talking to Garner,” Berkman said. “I didn’t realize you could get thrown out of a game for talking to your manager, but apparently you can. … I’m more baffled than I am upset.”

Berkman had been ejected Tuesday night in the eighth inning of a game at Colorado after arguing a third strike. He then threw his glove and a bag onto the field from the dugout. He violated rules by returning in the ninth inning when the benches emptied after the Rockies’ Manny Corpas hit Lee with a pitch.

“I’ve had two really quick ejections and both times I’m wondering what exactly it was that they took umbrage with. The only thing I can think of is that if you know you’re wrong, you get really defensive. Maybe they didn’t like the fact that attention was being brought to a questionable call,” Berkman said.

Chris Sampson (6-5) allowed six hits in 6 2-3 innings for the victory Friday night.

Both teams are far removed from the ones that met in the World Series 20 months ago. Houston’s win was just its fifth in 21 games. The White Sox have lost 11 of 13 and are five games under .500 for the first time since July 17, 2003.

Before the game, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said it seems like 30 years have passed since the White Sox swept the Astros for the title.

After Friday’s game, Guillen was flummoxed over his team’s latest performance that had fans booing.

“I think I’ve run out of quotes, run out of what I want to say. To see this every day is just amazing. I don’t know how to put it together. … Everything is going the way it’s not supposed to go,” Guillen said.

“It’s frustration. I’m not saying I’m going crazy, but it drives me crazy to see the same stuff day-in and day-out.”

Chicago’s hitting has been surprisingly poor all season and other areas are collapsing, as well. After committing three errors Thursday, the White Sox had two more.

“Terrible. They should be embarrassed,” Guillen said. “Just be careful, you might lose your starting job. … If I had another option believe me a couple of guys would be on the bench right now.”

Lee, in his first game at U.S. Cellular Field since being traded away by the White Sox after the 2004 season, doubled to right center and scored on an RBI double by Chris Burke to make it 2-1, minutes after the two ejections.

Chicago tied it in the bottom of the inning on A.J. Pierzynski’s double, an infield out and Rob Mackowiak’s RBI single.

The Astros regained the lead in the fifth as the speedy Pence doubled and scored on a single by Luke Scott—Berkman’s replacement—by making a great slide around Pierzynski following a strong throw from Chicago right fielder Luis Terrero.

“I was just trying to get in there the best I could and avoid the tag,” Pence said. “Where he was standing and where the ball was I just felt that was my safest bet.”

Pence left the game in the seventh with a right hip flexor strain after running out a grounder. He said basicially his legs cramped up but the injury was not related to his earlier slide.

Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances, a day after blowing a two-run lead at Colorado.

Craig Biggio’s 52nd career leadoff homer moved him 20 hits away from 3,000 and gave Houston an early lead. Chicago’s Tadahito Iguchi tied it with a solo shot in the bottom of the first.

Houston went up 4-2 in the sixth with some sloppy fielding from the White Sox. Terrero, who had just moved from right to center, dropped Morgan Ensberg’s liner for an error before Burke bunted for a single when Josh Fields let the ball roll and it hit the third base bag. After a double play, Adam Everett delivered an RBI single to chase John Danks (3-6).

Scott singled and moved up on a wild pitch in the seventh, scoring on Mark Loretta’s RBI single for a 5-2 cushion.

Notes

White Sox CF Jerry Owens left the game after five innings with a strained right hamstring. … Including the 2005 World Series, the teams are meeting at U.S. Cellular Field for a third straight season. The White Sox won two of three in an interleague meeting a year ago.

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