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Kent, Berman homer to lead Houston

8/17/2003

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Houston Astros only spent a few hours in
second place.

Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer, and Wade Miller pitched
one-hit ball for six innings as the Astros snapped a four-game skid
Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jeff Kent homered for the second consecutive game for the
Astros, who dropped out of first place in the NL Central on Friday
night for the first time since July 7. But by the next afternoon,
Houston was back in front of the Chicago Cubs, who lost to the
Dodgers on Saturday.

"One thing about this sport is there's always tomorrow -- unless
it's the last game of the season," Houston slugger Jeff Bagwell
said. "We were out of it for 12 hours. It'll make it a lot better
if we can find a way to win tomorrow."

Miller (10-10) overcame control problems to win his third
straight start and improve to 6-0 in 11 career games against
Cincinnati. The right-hander had four strikeouts and matched his
season high with four walks.

"That was a gutty performance," Astros manager Jimy Williams
said. "He battled and gave us six good innings. He made pitches
when he had to. We wanted to get him out of there after six and
hope the bullpen could get us nine outs."

Rick White allowed a run in the seventh and Octavio Dotel worked
a scoreless eighth. Billy Wagner got three outs for his 35th save
in 38 opportunities, finishing the five-hitter.

Seth Etherton (0-1) allowed six hits and five runs in five
innings, his first major league appearance since Aug. 4, 2000, for
Anaheim at Cleveland. Etherton was acquired by the Reds in December
2000, but a series of arm injuries kept him from pitching in the
majors.

"He threw the ball well," Cincinnati interim manager Dave
Miley said. "The longball hurt him. If you leave Berkman a pitch
like that, he'll hurt anybody."

Kent led off the second with his 17th home run. Miller singled
and scored on Bagwell's sacrifice fly in the third for a 2-0 lead.

Morgan Ensberg singled and Bagwell walked with one out in the
fifth. After Kent flied out, Berkman lined a fastball into the
right-field seats for his 22nd homer of the season.

"One pitch," Etherton said. "If there was any such thing as a
mulligan or a do-over in this game, I'd take it. It got a little
more of the plate than I wanted, and he hammered it."

Miller held the Reds hitless until Dernell Stenson connected for
what appeared to be a homer with two outs in the fourth. Second
base umpire Rob Drake ruled fan interference and a ground-rule
double, but replays seemed to show the ball went into the first row
of seats before bouncing back onto the field.

"You can't really get it back, so you let it go," said
Stenson, who added another double and a single for a three-hit day.

Miley ran out to question the call.

"You can beat it up as much as you want, but he made his
call," Miley said. "It's probably not the easiest call for an
umpire to make."

The Reds scored without a hit in the third after Miller walked
the bases loaded. Reggie Taylor had an RBI groundout.

"I felt good coming in, but the heat got to me in the third
inning," Miller said. "I didn't help myself. The air was heavy. I
went through three or four T-shirts."

The Reds added a run off White in the seventh. Stenson led off
with a double to deep center field and scored on a single by
pinch-hitter Wily Mo Pena.

Game notes
Stenson's start and hits were his first in the majors. ...
Stenson started in place of Adam Dunn, who was placed on the 15-day
disabled list with a sprained left thumb. ... Etherton was called
up from Triple-A Louisville to fill Dunn's roster spot. ...
Berkman's homer was his 19th against the Reds in 189 at-bats. ...
Houston avoided its first five-game losing streak since May 19-25,
2002.