Astros squeeze by Reds

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

CINCINNATI - Astros manager Phil Garner figured this was the perfect time for a suicide squeeze.

He was absolutely right.

Adam Everett's eighth-inning squeeze bunt drove in the go-ahead run, Roy Oswalt beat the Cincinnati Reds again, and Houston came from behind to win 7-5 Sunday.

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Morgan Ensberg had three RBIs for the Astros, including a sacrifice fly in the eighth that cut their deficit to 5-4. After Jeff Kent scored the tying run on John Riedling's bases-loaded walk to Craig Biggio, Everett laid down a terrific bunt just beyond the reach of reliever Todd Van Poppel for a base hit that allowed Jeff Bagwell to score from third.

''We had Baggie at third, so we had a guy on that knows what he's doing. (Jose) Vizcaino and Biggio do, too. It takes good execution all around, and that's what we got,'' said Garner, who improved to 9-8 since taking over for fired manager Jimy Williams after the All-Star break.

Oswalt had his worst outing ever against Cincinnati, but he settled down in the middle innings to give his teammates a chance to come back.

''We had a meeting, and the coaches pointed out that we haven't come from behind late in the game for a while,'' Oswalt said. ''I knew that if I could change the pace and get some quick strikeouts to get them off the field, they would be energized.''

Ensberg added an RBI double in the ninth to make it 7-5, sending slumping Cincinnati to its 10th loss in 11 games. Jacob Cruz hit a two-run homer for the Reds, and Wily Mo Pena had a two-run double.

Riedling (4-3) gave up three hits, two walks and three runs in two-thirds of an inning. He was ejected by plate umpire Andy Fletcher as he walked off the field after being relieved.

''I didn't make the pitches. It's frustrating,'' Riedling said.

Houston was losing 5-3 when Mike Lamb singled to start the eighth. Kent followed with a chopper to normally reliable third baseman Juan Castro, who got caught between hops. The ball glanced off his glove into short left field and Kent was credited with a single. Castro said the ball might have taken a slight bad hop.

''I went back because it was a high chopper,'' he said. ''It had topspin, and it bounced a little higher than I expected. I should've made the play.''

Lamb moved to third on the play and scored on Ensberg's sacrifice fly. Pinch-hitter Bagwell walked, and Vizcaino had a pinch-hit single to load the bases for Biggio.

''A big part of my game is getting groundballs,'' Riedling said. ''I rely big-time on my infielders. I wouldn't want anybody else but (Castro) over there.''

Oswalt (11-8) improved to 9-0 in 13 career appearances against the Reds, giving up five runs, four earned, and 10 hits in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked two. The right-hander allowed four runs in the fourth before yielding just one hit in his final three innings.

''They had momentum against Roy but he stopped them,'' Garner said. ''That's key. You can't let them add on.''

Dan Miceli worked a scoreless eighth, and Brad Lidge got three outs for his 11th save in 13 opportunities. He got D'Angelo Jimenez to ground into a game-ending double play.

Oswalt had never allowed more than four runs or eight hits against the Reds.

''They have some guys in the middle of the lineup that can hurt you, but the rest you can pitch to if you use all four corners of the zone,'' he said.

Cincinnati's Paul Wilson wound up with his fourth no-decision in four starts since the All-Star break. He allowed six hits and three runs with four walks in seven innings. The Reds have lost all four games he's started since the All-Star break.

Ensberg and Raul Chavez hit consecutive run-scoring singles to give Houston a 2-0 lead in the second.

The Reds, who had scored one run in their previous 17 innings, needed help from Biggio to get on the board in the third. Felipe Lopez was on second with one out when Ryan Freel singled to left. Lopez stopped at third, then kept going when the ball slipped under Biggio's glove for an error.

In the fourth, Cruz followed Pena's two-run double off the right-field wall with a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers as the Reds sent nine batters to the plate and took a 5-2 lead.

Houston started its comeback with a run in the fifth when Everett scored from second on Lamb's two-out single.

Notes: Cincinnati's Sean Casey snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a first-inning single. … Pena snapped an 0-for-17 skid, and Cruz broke an 0-for-11 slump. … Bagwell did not start for the second consecutive game.