Series: Game 2 of 4

Houston leads 2-0 (as of 6/22)

Game 1: Monday, June 21
Game 2: Tuesday, June 22
Game 3: Wednesday, June 23
Game 4: Thursday, June 24

Pirates 4

(26-41, 15-19 away)

Astros 5

(37-33, 19-18 home)

    8:05 PM ET, June 22, 2004

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 003000001 4 10 0
    HOU 11001020 - 5 8 0

    W: R. Oswalt (5-6)

    L: K. Benson (5-7)

    S: B. Lidge (2)

    Oswalt solid, Ensberg golden in Houston win

    HOUSTON (AP) -- After getting himself out most of the night, Morgan Ensberg was frustrated.

    But when it counted most in the seventh inning Tuesday, Ensberg came through with a two-run triple that sent the Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Ensberg batted twice before the seventh with runners in scoring position. He came up with the bases loaded in the first and grounded into an inning-ending double play, then grounded out in the fifth with a runner on third.

    "I was swinging at a two-seam fastball almost in the dirt the first two times," Ensberg said. "I was being impatient and too aggressive then. I had two opportunities to help the team and failed at both.

    "I've got this real thick skull and just can't seem to figure things out sometimes. It's about two inches thick I think. But finally in the seventh, I laid off, kept my shoulder in and waited for my pitch," he said.

    Roy Oswalt (5-6) allowed three runs, nine hits and did not walk a batter in eight innings, sending Pittsburgh to its 10th straight road loss and fifth in a row overall.

    The right-hander, who lost three of his previous four starts and five of seven, struck out five.

    The Pirates dropped to 1-15 in their last 16 games in Houston.

    Astros manager Jimy Williams almost took Oswalt out after the seventh.

    "I told him I felt fine," Oswalt said with a big smile. "I had less than 100 pitches, and I mentioned that he let Wade [Miller] go 120 the other night. I kind of used that against him."

    Brad Lidge gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth to Jason Bay, his seventh of the year, then finished for his second save. Lidge had not allowed a run in 14 1/3 innings, spanning 12 appearances.

    It was the second straight comeback win for the Astros over the Pirates. Houston rallied from four runs down Monday to win 7-5.

    "To me, Morgan's an RBI guy," Williams said. "It was the last shot he was going to have probably, and he came through big for us. That's not unlike Morgan at all."

    Pittsburgh's 10 straight road losses are its most since dropping 19 in a row from July 23 to Aug. 30, 1985.

    Kris Benson (5-7) allowed five runs and eight hits in seven innings, dropping to 0-5 with an 8.03 ERA in seven starts at Minute Maid Park.

    Benson worked his way out of trouble in the second, fourth and fifth innings. But with the score tied at 3 in the seventh, Lance Berkman walked and Jeff Bagwell reached on an infield single.

    Both moved up on Mike Lamb's groundout, and Ensberg hit Benson's 120th pitch to right-center for a two-run triple and a 5-3 lead.

    "They got the big hit they were looking for," Benson said. "Morgan did a good job of hitting the ball. I got beat on my 120th pitch, so I guess you could call that tough luck."

    Bagwell saluted Ensberg's determination.

    "Morgan's a grinder," Bagwell said. "He just stayed after it. His triple was huge. That was the game for us."

    Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson thought it was a tough way for Benson to lose.

    "Benson only threw one bad pitch all night," Wilson said. "He was hitting his spots. He was awesome. It was our best guy against their best guy."

    Manager Lloyd McClendon agreed.

    "I thought he had great stuff," McClendon said of Benson. "He was throwing 94 and 95. He just got a pitch up to Ensberg and he took advantage of it."

    Houston loaded the bases in the first, and Lamb singled to drive in Craig Biggio.

    In the second inning, Raul Chavez doubled to left-center to drive in Orlando Palmeiro, making it 2-0.

    The Pirates fought back in the third. Wilson doubled in Benson, Jason Kendall scored on a groundout and Craig Wilson drove in Jack Wilson with a single for a 3-2 lead.

    Bagwell tied it with an RBI triple in the fifth.

    Game notes

    Houston LHP Andy Pettitte, on the disabled list with a left forearm strain, is scheduled to make another rehab start at Double-A Round Rock on Wednesday night. ... Bagwell needs one home run to tie Cal Ripken for 32nd on the career list at 431. ... Pittsburgh is winless in the state of Texas this season, 0-3 at Texas and 0-5 in Houston. ... Jack Wilson's third-inning double gave the Pirates an extra-base hit in a season-high 18 straight games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press