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Astros bang out 15 hits

5/18/2004

MIAMI (AP) -- One week later, the Houston Astros solved the
unorthodox delivery of Dontrelle Willis.

Lance Berkman homered and had four of Houston's 15 hits to lead
the Astros over the Florida Marlins 9-2 Tuesday night.

"People want to credit his success with people not being able
to pick the ball up, but that's not it -- he has good stuff,"
Berkman said. "Like any good pitcher, when he's locating the ball
and hitting his spots, he's tough to hit. And then on a night like
tonight, when he's maybe struggling with his command, leaving some
balls over the plate and walking some guys, you get that result."

Brad Ausmus also connected and had three RBI in support of Wade
Miller (5-3).

Willis, who threw 91 pitches in a complete-game victory at
Houston last Wednesday, threw 96 pitches in just four innings.
Willis (4-2) allowed five runs and 11 hits, walked four and hit a
batter.

"I couldn't get my sinker in the zone," he said. "They did a
good job of being patient as opposed to swinging early. I didn't
give myself a chance to win today. Every time you looked up I was
behind, walking guys, especially with two outs."

Berkman is 25-for-63 (.397) with 12 RBI and 14 runs scored in
his last 21 games.

"I don't feel like I'm really hot," Berkman said. "I just
feel like I'm going up there and having good at-bats."

Florida lost for the third time in four games, and lost by the
most runs this season.

Miller gave up two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, walked
three and struck out five. Three relievers combined for 3 1-3
innings of hitless relief.

"The last time, I gave up two home runs to Mike Lowell, so that
was a little different," said Miller, who lost to Willis in
Houston. "I think I was throwing my breaking ball better over the
plate tonight."

Houston stranded 10 runners.

We left 17 men on base in a game we lost in 13 innings," Astros
manager Jimy Williams said, referring to a loss to the Mets. "So
if you have the right people up, and it doesn't work, so be it."

The Astros opened an early 3-0 lead against Willis, who gave up
more runs through two innings than he did during his complete-game
victory.

"He went after them in Houston, made them hit the first or
second pitch," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "Today it was
ball one, ball two, ball three, ball four. Ball one ..."

Jeff Kent's one-out RBI single followed walks to Adam Everett
and Jeff Bagwell in the first, when Houston left the bases loaded.

Everett and Bagwell each had an RBI single in the second.
Berkman's third hit, a run-scoring double, and Ausmus' RBI single
knocked in the runs that gave Houston a 5-0 lead in the fourth.

The Marlins got their first run when Lowell scored from third on
Miller's wild pitch in the fourth.

Berkman's solo home run and Ausmus' two-run shot both came in
the sixth off reliever Justin Wayne.

Richard Hidalgo was 1-for-5 and struck out four times.

Game notes
Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula threw out the first
pitch. ... Miller, who entered batting .333 (4-for-12), singled in
each of his first two at-bats. ... Florida failed to homer in a
season-high fifth consecutive game. ... With his fourth-inning
single, Lowell extended his hitting streak to nine games and has
hit safely in 17 of his last 18. ... Marlins RHP A.J. Burnett,
coming off Tommy John surgery, threw 4 1-3 innings in an extended
spring training game at Jupiter, Fla. He could rejoin the Marlins
as early as June 2. ... Arizona's Randy Johnson is scheduled to
pitch Sunday at Florida. "He did throw a perfect game?" McKeon
asked. "Great, get it out of his system before he gets here."