Series: Game 1 of 3

Milwaukee leads 1-0 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Tuesday, September 17
Houston 4Final
Milwaukee 5
Game 2: Wednesday, September 18
Houston 3Final
Milwaukee 1
Game 3: Thursday, September 19
Houston 4Final
Milwaukee 5

Astros 4

(80-71, 35-38 away)

Brewers 5

(53-97, 30-46 home)

    8:05 PM ET, September 17, 2002

    Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 000100021 4 - -
    MIL 11000300 - 5 - -

    W: B. Sheets (10-16)

    L: K. Saarloos (6-6)

    S: L. Vizcaino (5)

    Sheets beats Astros for third time this season

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Houston Astros are going to have to have to win nearly every game to have any hope of catching the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.


    Ben Sheets beat the Houston for the third time this season, and the Milwaukee Brewers damaged the Astros' faint postseason hopes with a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.

    "If there is any outside chance of us getting in, it definitely has to be us sweeping the rest of the season and St. Louis falling off the boat,'' Geoff Blum said.

    After returning to the starting lineup for his first game since Sept. 10 -- he had been out with a strained right oblique muscle -- Blum hit a long fly ball down the right-field line that just landed foul. He ended up punching a single to right that advanced a runner to third, but reliever Luis Vizcaino struck out pinch-hitter Mark Loretta to end the game.

    "He kept pumping fastballs and got them by me tonight,'' Loretta said.

    Houston, which has 11 games remaining, fell to 7 games behind first-place St. Louis with the loss.

    "We'll come back here tomorrow and to try and win,'' Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "That's all we can do.''

    Sheets (10-16) has won four straight decisions against the Astros, allowing six hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Daryle Ward hit a solo homer in the fourth and Craig Biggio had a two-run homer in the eighth.

    Sheets said that he wasn't thinking the least bit about being in the role of a spoiler.

    "That never crossed my mind,'' he said. "We're just trying to take care of our business.''

    Sheets left with Milwaukee up 5-3. Brewers manager Jerry Royster found out during the middle of the game that his closer Mike DeJean was unavailable.

    "His back locked up on him,'' Royster said.

    Vizcaino got three outs for his fifth save in six chances, allowing an RBI grounder to Brad Ausmus. With runners on first and third and two outs, Vizcaino fanned Loretta, traded to the Astros on Aug. 31 for Wayne Franklin and Keith Ginter.

    Kirk Saarloos (6-6) allowed five runs -- four earned -- and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

    Milwaukee's Ryan Thompson tore his right hamstring running down the first-base line on a leadoff hit in the third. Thompson, who will miss the rest of the season, hopped down the line on his left leg and grimacing, dived onto the bag.

    "He's torn his tendon off the bone,'' Royster said.

    Eric Young, who had missed three games with a mild strain of his right hip flexor, doubled and scored on a double by Ginter in the first, and Jorge Fabregas hit an RBI double in the second.

    Milwaukee added three runs in the sixth. Ryan Chistenson had a squeeze bunt, and a second run scored when Saarloos scooped the ball with his glove and flipped the ball past Ausmus at the plate for an error. Febregas added a sacrifice fly off Jeriome Robertson.

    Game notes

    Houston RHP Brad Lidge (1-0) is to make his first major league start Wednesday. He has five relief appearances. ... Young left last Wednesday's game against St. Louis in the sixth inning. ... Jeff Bagwell's single in the second extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Sheets has given up at least one home run in nine of his last 12 starts.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press