CINCINNATI (AP) -- Astros manager Phil Garner figured this was
the perfect time for a suicide squeeze.
He was absolutely right.
Morgan Ensberg had three RBI for the Astros, including a
sacrifice fly in the eighth that cut their deficit to 5-4. After
Jeff Kent scored the tying run on John Riedling's bases-loaded walk
to Craig Biggio, Everett laid down a terrific bunt just beyond the
reach of reliever Todd Van Poppel for a base hit that allowed Jeff
Bagwell to score from third.
"We had Baggie at third, so we had a guy on that knows what
he's doing. (Jose) Vizcaino and Biggio do, too. It takes good
execution all around, and that's what we got," said Garner, who
improved to 9-8 since taking over for fired manager Jimy Williams
after the All-Star break.
Oswalt had his worst outing ever against Cincinnati, but he
settled down in the middle innings to give his teammates a chance
to come back.
"We had a meeting, and the coaches pointed out that we haven't
come from behind late in the game for a while," Oswalt said. "I
knew that if I could change the pace and get some quick strikeouts
to get them off the field, they would be energized."
Riedling (4-3) gave up three hits, two walks and three runs in
two-thirds of an inning. He was ejected by plate umpire Andy
Fletcher as he walked off the field after being relieved.
"I didn't make the pitches. It's frustrating," Riedling said.
Houston was losing 5-3 when Mike Lamb singled to start the
eighth. Kent followed with a chopper to normally reliable third
baseman Juan Castro, who got caught between hops. The ball glanced
off his glove into short left field and Kent was credited with a
single. Castro said the ball might have taken a slight bad hop.
"I went back because it was a high chopper," he said. "It had
topspin, and it bounced a little higher than I expected. I
should've made the play."
Lamb moved to third on the play and scored on Ensberg's
sacrifice fly. Pinch-hitter Bagwell walked, and Vizcaino had a
pinch-hit single to load the bases for Biggio.
"A big part of my game is getting groundballs," Riedling said.
"I rely big-time on my infielders. I wouldn't want anybody else
but (Castro) over there."
Oswalt (11-8) improved to 9-0 in 13 career appearances against
the Reds, giving up five runs, four earned, and 10 hits in seven
innings. He struck out eight and walked two. The right-hander
allowed four runs in the fourth before yielding just one hit in his
final three innings.
"They had momentum against Roy but he stopped them," Garner
said. "That's key. You can't let them add on."
Oswalt had never allowed more than four runs or eight hits
against the Reds.
"They have some guys in the middle of the lineup that can hurt
you, but the rest you can pitch to if you use all four corners of
the zone," he said.
Cincinnati's Paul Wilson wound up with his fourth no-decision in
four starts since the All-Star break. He allowed six hits and three
runs with four walks in seven innings. The Reds have lost all four
games he's started since the All-Star break.
Ensberg and Raul Chavez hit consecutive run-scoring singles to
give Houston a 2-0 lead in the second.
The Reds, who had scored one run in their previous 17 innings,
needed help from Biggio to get on the board in the third. Felipe
Lopez was on second with one out when Ryan Freel singled to left.
Lopez stopped at third, then kept going when the ball slipped under
Biggio's glove for an error.
In the fourth, Cruz followed Pena's two-run double off the
right-field wall with a two-run homer into the right-field
bleachers as the Reds sent nine batters to the plate and took a 5-2
Houston started its comeback with a run in the fifth when
Everett scored from second on Lamb's two-out single.
Cincinnati's Sean Casey snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a
first-inning single. ... Pena snapped an 0-for-17 skid, and Cruz
broke an 0-for-11 slump. ... Bagwell did not start for the second