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Pettitte keeps Houston above .500

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The first half of Andy Pettitte's first
season with the Houston Astros has been plagued by arm problems.

He's hoping for better luck after the All-Star break.

Pettitte, who has been limited to just 54 1-3 innings because of
a strained forearm and a strained elbow, outpitched former teammate
Jeff Weaver and also drove in a run to help the Astros edge the Los
Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Friday night.

"It's been a long first half for me because of the injuries,"
said Pettitte, whose seven-inning stint was his longest in 10
starts with the Astros.

"It would be an ideal situation for me to be able to stay
healthy and try to put together a good second half," he said.

Jose Vizcaino hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning
and Carlos Beltran hit his fifth homer in 14 games with the Astros,
who ended Los Angeles' six-game winning streak.

Beltran fouled a ball off his right knee in the first inning,
but didn't come out of the game until after he struck out in the
eighth.

Pettitte (5-2) allowed two runs and four hits, helping prevent
the Astros from slipping to .500 for the first time since April 11.
He struck out four and did not walk a batter for the first time
this season.

"He's been one of the best pitchers in the big leagues over the
course of his career, and tonight was a testament to that," said
Jayson Werth, who hit a two-run homer off Pettitte in the fifth.

"He just grinds and battles," he said. "I mean, I don't think
he threw a fastball over 90 miles an hour. But whatever he does, it
seems to work for him."

Brad Lidge threw two scoreless innings for his seventh save in
nine chances, but had to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the
ninth after walking Paul Lo Duca and pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski
on 3-2 pitches.

Shawn Green also worked the count to 3-2 before grounding into a
game-ending 3-6-1 double play. Lidge pumped his fist and then
spiked the ball near the first-base bag in celebration.

"They did a fantastic job of batting and fighting off
everything I was throwing up there, being patient and laying off
some decent pitches," said Lidge, who credited catcher Brad Ausmus
for helping him bear down on Green.

"Ausmus came out and told me, `You've had bases loaded with
nobody out before and you've gotten out of it, so you can get out
of this one.' And I was confident I could do it."

Weaver (6-9) allowed three runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings.
The right-hander, a teammate of Pettitte's with the New York
Yankees from 2002-03, struck out five and walked one.

"It was nothing extra special, just another game," Weaver
said. "I didn't really focus on who I was pitching against. I was
facing nine guys in their lineup. My job was to get them out and
keep it close. It was a tough battle."

Weaver has allowed no more than three earned runs in 13 of his
18 starts with the Dodgers. He was 7-9 with a 5.73 ERA in his 24
starts last season with the Yankees, and sealed his fate with owner
George Steinbrenner after surrendering a game-ending home run to
Florida's Alex Gonzalez in Game 4 of the World Series.

"He had a hard time there," Pettitte recalled. "In New York,
when you scuffle early and start pressing, things kind of snowball.
It's a tough place to play when you're going bad, so it was a tough
situation for him to be in. He gave it everything he had there and
tried as hard as he could, but I just think there was too much
pressure on him."

Orlando Palmeiro pinch-hit for Pettitte in the eighth and led
off with a bloop double that landed just inside the left-field
line. He advanced on Craig Biggio's sacrifice bunt and scored on a
single to left-center by Vizcaino that chased Weaver.

Pettitte, whose only experience at the plate before this season
was during interleague and World Series competition during his nine
years with the Yankees, made it 2-0 in the fifth when he followed a
ground-rule double by Ausmus with a single for his fourth career
RBI and seventh hit in 44 at-bats.

Game notes
When Pettitte left the Yankees as a free agent to sign a
three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Astros on Dec. 11, New
York responded by trading Weaver to Los Angeles for Kevin Brown.
... Werth, who spent almost two months on the disabled list because
of a strained oblique muscle in his left side, is 18-for-54 with
six homers and 13 RBI in the 14 games he has started this season.
... Vizcaino left the game with a bruised left wrist. X-rays were
negative. ... Morgan Ensberg was 0-for-15 lifetime against Dodgers
pitching before his fourth-inning single.