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Pettitte pitches nine strong; Ensberg knocks in game-winner

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Astros believe Andy Pettitte has
regained his form, and the Texas Rangers won't argue.

Pettitte pitched nine strong innings and Morgan Ensberg drove in
the winning run in the bottom of the 10th to lead Houston over
Texas 3-2 Sunday.

Pettitte had left elbow surgery in August and has come along
slowly this season. He missed a start with tightness in his left
forearm last month against the Cubs, but is 2-2 with two
no-decisions and a 2.45 ERA since then.

Against the Rangers, he allowed two runs -- one earned -- and
seven hits with no walks. He struck out six in his longest outing
since a complete game against Seattle on Aug. 9, 2003, when he was
with the New York Yankees. Pettitte couldn't remember how long it
had been since he had gone nine innings.

"I think that was the longest I've gone since the World Series
[2003 with the Yankees]," Pettitte said. "My arm feels good. It's
getting stronger and stronger.

"They told me after the surgery not to expect to be able to
feel good until July. So I'm about right on schedule. I'm feeling
strong now. You forget what it's like to feel good."

Catcher Brad Ausmus has noticed the difference in Pettitte
recently.

"He has really started to turn the corner the last two
starts," Ausmus said. "Since he skipped that start a month ago,
he has turned into the Andy Pettitte everyone has watched do so
well in the past."

Manager Phil Garner agreed.

"I think he was on cruise control today," Garner said. "It
was a great job by him. Typically after surgery pitchers have
trouble locating pitches. But his location has been much better
than I anticipated it would be."

The Rangers were certainly impressed.

"It was the same old thing, fastball away and then he would
come inside," Mark Teixeira said. "He's a good pitcher. He's done
it for a long time. He didn't give us too many oppurtunities. He
pretty much shut us down."

The Rangers also got a strong outing from Chan Ho Park, who was
bouncing back from his worst outing of the year in Los Angeles last
Tuesday. He tied his season-high for inninngs when he went seven
and allowed just four hits and two runs, one earned.

Park was coming off a disastrous performance Tuesday at Los
Angeles when he allowed season highs of 10 hits and eight runs in
just one inning against the Angels.

"They had a lot of swinging bunts against Chan Ho and runs were
at a premium for us," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "I was
really pleased with the way he pitched. Hopefully he can learn from
this.

"He got a pitch up to [Lance] Berkman and one up to[Orlando]
Palmeiro. Other than that he was down and aggressive. He deserved
the win just like Pettitte did."

Reliever Juan Dominguez (0-2) walked Craig Biggio and Lance
Berkman to lead off the 10th before Ensberg slapped his game-ending
single between third and shortstop.

Ensberg and Palmeiro had two hits apiece, and Houston won for
the second time in the six-game Lone Star series.

Chad Qualls (3-3) pitched a hitless 10th inning to pick up the
win.

Texas has lost 10 of its last 12 road games and 13 of 17.

Texas took a 1-0 lead in the first. After Michael Young and
Teixeira singled with one out, Hank Blalock hit a grounder to first
baseman Mike Lamb who threw to second for the force out. Shortstop
Adam Everett, attempting the double play, threw wildly to Pettitte
covering first, allowing Young to score.

The Rangers made it 2-0 in the fourth inning, Alfonso Soriano
doubled with one out and went to third on a wild pitch. One out
later, Rod Barajas hit a looper to left field. Berkman dove for it
and momentarily had it in his glove, but it popped out and allowed
Soriano to score.

Park dominated the Astros in the first five innings, holding
them to a pair of infield singles by Everett and Ausmus in the
second. It extended Park's scoreless innings streak against Houston
to 12, including seven at home on May 22.

Houston finally got to him in the sixth inning when Craig Biggio
singled and Berkman hit a run-scoring double.

The Astros tied it in the seventh when Palmeiro doubled, moved
to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Ausmus' bunt down the
first-base line. Ausmus reached safely when Teixeira failed to
catch Park's soft throw.

Pettitte then followed with another sacrifice, giving the Astros
a major league record-tying three in an inning.

Game notes
The Astros' three sacrifices was the 14th time a team did
it in an inning, and the first time since the Minnesota Twins on
July 21, 1991, in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Houston has done it three times, twice in the 1975 season. ...
Astros improved their all-time record to 16-14 against the Rangers.
... Lance Berkman is the only Astros player to have appeared in all
30 Lone Star series games. ... Texas is 22-13 in weekend games this
season. ... Richard Hidalgo finished 1-for-21 on the road trip,
including 0-for-9 in his first trip back to face his former team at
Minute Maid Park.