Series: Game 3 of 3

Milwaukee won 2-1

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

(81-72, 36-39 away)

Brewers 5

(54-98, 31-47 home)

    2:05 PM ET, September 19, 2002

    Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 001000210 4 - -
    MIL 00040010 - 5 - -

    W: W. Franklin (1-1)

    L: R. Oswalt (19-7)

    S: M. DeJean (25)

    Astros lose two out of three to NL's worst team

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- After losing two of three to the worst team in the National League, the Houston Astros have seen their postseason chances all but fade away.

    Roy Oswalt

    Bill Hall's two-run double keyed Milwaukee's four-run fourth inning as the Brewers handed Roy Oswalt his first loss in two months and dealt another blow to Houston's playoff chances with a 5-4 victory Thursday.

    The Astros' loss reduced St. Louis' magic number to two for clinching the NL Central. Houston trails San Francisco by 6½ games in the wild-card race, pending the Giants' night game against Los Angeles.

    "We have a very steep hill to climb,'' Houston's Jeff Bagwell said. "About as uphill as you can get.''

    Oswalt (19-7) allowed four runs and four hits in six innings to lose for the first time since July 16, a span of 12 starts.

    "I didn't really have my normal stuff, but I was pleased that I battled through six,'' he said.

    The Astros left 11 runners on base and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They put the tying run on third in both the eighth and ninth innings, but failed to get either home.

    "We had our chances to say the least, from the get-go,'' Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "Early in the game. Not a lot in the middle, but certainly at the end of the game we had the right people up in the right situations, but we couldn't tie it.''

    Wayne Franklin (1-1), traded from Houston to Milwaukee on Aug. 31, gave up one run and five hits in six innings for his first career win.

    "To put a phrase on this day, I'd probably call it poetic justice,'' Franklin said. "I felt like that I wasn't wanted there (in Houston) anymore. That's what it felt like.''

    Brewers manager Jerry Royster was pleased with the left-hander's performance, pitching for the first time in nine days.

    "He had a little bit of a control problem, but always seemed to make a good pitch when he needed to,'' Royster said.

    Four relievers pitched the final three innings, with Mike DeJean getting three outs for his 25th save in 28 opportunities.

    With Milwaukee leading 5-3, Houston loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but could manage only one run on pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun's groundout. Ray King struck out Daryle Ward to strand runners on second and third.

    The Astros had runners at first and third with two outs in the ninth, but DeJean struck out pinch-hitter Orlando Merced to end the game.

    "We had a lot of opportunities, we just came up short,'' Bagwell said.

    Oswalt retired the first nine batters, but struggled in the fourth against a makeshift Milwaukee starting lineup that included five players with fewer than 50 at-bats this season.

    With Houston leading 1-0, Keith Ginter received a one-out walk. Jim Rushford flied out, but Richie Sexson walked, moving Ginter to second. Matt Stairs hit a sharp single to right, scoring Ginter to tie it at 1.

    Hall, called up from the minors on Aug. 31, hit a deep fly to left that got over Lance Berkman's head for a double, scoring Sexson and Stairs. Paul Bako followed with a single to score Hall and make it 4-1.

    The Astros made it 4-3 in the seventh on Berkman's two-run single, scoring Adam Everett and Craig Biggio. Milwaukee added a run in the bottom half on a throwing error by first baseman Bagwell.

    The Astros scored the first run on Bagwell's RBI single in the third inning.

    Game notes

    The Miller Park roof leaked again when rain started falling in the sixth inning, but not as much water came through as at earlier times this year. ... SS Jose Hernandez, who has 188 strikeouts and is one shy of Bobby Bonds' all-time single-season strikeout record, was given the day off. ... Astros RHP Brad Lidge said his left side still hurt Thursday, a day after straining a muscle in his first career start. ... Brewers LF Geoff Jenkins, on the disabled list, will be at the White House on Sunday to coach third base during a T-ball game on the South Lawn.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press