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Astros 7, Braves 5: Another home series slips away

POSTED: May 4, 2009 12:08 a.m.
John Amis/The Associated Press

Houston Astros' Michael Bourn (21) passes Atlanta Braves catcher David Ross, right, to score on a sacrifice fly hit by Astros' Carlos Lee during the seventh inning Sunday in Atlanta. Houston won 7-5.

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ATLANTA — Houston’s bullpen picked up the Astros’ starting pitchers in two weekend wins over the Braves. Now the relievers may have to find a way to pick up one of their own.

Michael Bourn had three hits, including a seventh-inning single to drive in the go-ahead run, as the Astros beat the Braves 7-5 Sunday and won a series in Atlanta for the first time in five years.

The bullpen gave up one run in eight innings following a rain delay in Saturday’s 5-1 win, and six relievers allowed two runs in four innings on Sunday.

"The bullpen kind of bailed us out," said manager Cecil Cooper. "What was it, 12 innings? That’s pretty good."

The win may have been costly, as right-hander Doug Brocail left the game in the eighth after straining his left hamstring on a play at first base.

Brocail took a throw from first baseman Lance Berkman, who made a diving stop of Kelly Johnson’s grounder, and fell over first base. He was taken away on a cart.

The Astros may place Brocail on the disabled list to clear a roster spot for Brian Moehler, who is coming off the DL to start tonight at Washington.

"We think of it as one of us is down," said Geoff Geary (1-3), who gave up three hits and one run in 1 1-3 innings.

Cooper said the team would "find out tomorrow" about Brocail’s status.

The Astros took two of three for their first series win at Turner Field since May 7-9, 2004. Houston has won two straight road series.

LaTroy Hawkins said it’s too early to suggest the last-place team has turned a corner.

"We’ve only had like two-game winning streaks," said Hawkins, who recorded the final four outs for his third save. "To really get on track we need to put together four, five or six straight wins."

The Braves have lost four of six in an eight-game homestand that continues with a two-game series against the New York Mets.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said the struggles to drive in runs shows the team misses Brian McCann and Garret Anderson, who are on the disabled list.

"They’re our big thumpers. That’s a lot to overcome," Cox said.

McCann, the regular cleanup hitter, is hoping new glasses solve his problems with blurred vision. He can come off the disabled list on Friday. Anderson, out with strained left quadriceps, is eligible to be activated on Tuesday.

Bourn’s bunt single was the first of four straight hits for the Astros in a three-run sixth inning. He broke a 4-4 tie by driving in Geoff Blum with a single off Peter Moylan (1-2) in the seventh.

Bourn then stole second and third and scored on Carlos Lee’s sacrifice fly.

Atlanta’s Matt Diaz drove in Yunel Escobar with a seventh-inning single to cut Houston’s lead to 6-5, but Geary struck out Jordan Schafer with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Ivan Rodriguez doubled off Rafael Soriano in the Houston eighth and scored on Blum’s sacrifice fly.

Russ Ortiz took over for Brocail and walked two batters. Hawkins struck out Jeff Francoeur to end the inning and pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.

Jo-Jo Reyes gave up six hits and four runs with three walks in 5 1-3 innings and still hasn’t won since June 18, 2008.

"I’ve just had no luck so far," Reyes said. "But our time is going to come. This can’t last all season."

Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez gave up six hits and three runs in five innings.

The Braves took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fifth. A balk by Rodriguez allowed Reyes, who walked, to score from third. Omar Infante scored on Francoeur’s sacrifice fly.

Reyes lost the lead in the sixth. With one out, Bourn’s bunt single started a string of four straight hits, including run-scoring singles by Lee and Miguel Tejada, as the Astros pulled even at 3-all. Reyes left the game after walking Hunter Pence to load the bases.

"I was getting ground balls, but they weren’t going to anybody," Reyes said.

Greg Norton, who had been 1 for 15 as a pinch-hitter, tied the game at 4-all with his pinch-single in the sixth off Wesley Wright. Norton’s two-out hit drove in Diaz, who led off the inning with a triple.Notes: Houston has won only five of 14 series at Turner Field. ... Reyes’ last win came on June 18, 2008 at Texas. ... The Braves’ official scorer on Sunday changed his ruling on Chipper Jones’ second error in Saturday’s game, instead awarding a hit on Berkman’s seventh-inning grounder that took a bad-hop bounce past Jones.



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