Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 4/21)

Game 1: Friday, April 21
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Game 2: Saturday, April 22
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Game 3: Sunday, April 23
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Pirates 2

(5-13, 1-7 away)

Astros 3

(11-5, 8-3 home)

    8:05 PM ET, April 21, 2006

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

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    W: W. Rodriguez (3-0)

    L: Z. Duke (1-2)

    S: B. Lidge (6)

    Ensberg homers in Astros' record sixth straight game

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is on a roll and wasn't about to let a bizarre incident with an umpire ruin it.

    Rodriguez allowed one run and five hits over six innings to pick up his career-best third straight win, and Morgan Ensberg homered in his franchise-record sixth straight game in Houston's 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

    In the first inning, Rodriguez was confronted at the mound by plate umpire Rick Reed after he called a ball. Reed said he didn't like reactions he was getting from the pitcher. The incident led to Houston manager Phil Garner's ejection.

    "The umpire was a little uncomfortable with me," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I just didn't pay attention to it. The pitch was inside and I thought it was a good pitch. My only reaction was 'Wow!' and he came running at and said, 'Don't do that again."

    Reed said Rodriguez shaking his head at some of the calls led to his action.

    "In baseball, players don't like being shown up and umpires are professionals and we don't like to be shown up either," Reed said. "When he did it the second time I felt that he should be told in no uncertain terms it wasn't going to be tolerated."

    Garner didn't have much to say about being ejected.

    "I disagreed with the action," he said. "He obviously disagreed with my disagreeing."

    Rodriguez (3-0) shook off the incident and didn't allow a run until Jason Bay's homer with two outs in the sixth inning.

    The 27-year-old pitcher, who made the opening day roster for the first time this season, said he is becoming increasingly self-assured.

    "I've had really good location with my pitches," he said. "This year I feel so much more confident. I don't know if it's because I have a little experience under my belt, but when I get out there I feel really good."

    Ensberg hit a two-run homer in the first, his seventh homer in the last six games and eighth of the season. He also leads the majors with a .411 average.

    Ensberg blew off breaking the home run record and instead focused on the team's accomplishments.

    "Doesn't mean anything to me," he said. "What I thought was really awesome was for us to get out in front and hold on to the lead...it was just nice to get it a lead and protect it."

    Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler each pitched a scoreless inning before Brad Lidge came in the ninth.

    Lidge struggled before earning his sixth save in six chances. He allowed two hits, including Craig Wilson's RBI single, and a walk before striking out Jose Castillo with men on second and third.

    Jason Lane homered in the bottom of the sixth on a 1-0 pitch off starter Zach Duke (1-2) to push Houston's lead to 3-1.

    Houston second baseman Craig Biggio's single to left field in the seventh inning put him in 42nd place on the career hits chart, ahead of George Sisler, with 2,813 hits. Biggio was 3-for-4 on Friday.

    Duke, who is from Clifton, Texas, allowed five hits and three runs while striking out four in six innings.

    "Duke did a fine job," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "It was a quality start and he gave an opportunity for the club to win. I don't know how much more you can ask."

    Astros fans are getting restless at the hitting slump of Preston Wilson. When Wilson struck out in the fourth inning, for his 13th strikeout in 16 at-bats, scores of fans responded with loud boos.

    Game notes


    Roger Clemens, who has not decided whether he will pitch another season, attended the game with two of his sons. The Astros, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are interested in signing him if he decides to come back. The Astros can't re-sign him until May 1. ... The Pirates are 1-8 this season in games where they faced a left-handed starting pitcher. ... Houston is 3,508-3,508 in franchise history. The Astros reached .500 for the first time since their first month of play on Tuesday, but dropped one under with a loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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