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Huff's three-run HR in Astros debut powers win vs. Marlins

MIAMI (AP) -- Aubrey Huff made quite a debut with his new team.

Huff hit a three-run home run in his first game with Houston and
Lance Berkman had three hits to lead the Astros to a 5-1 victory
over the Florida Marlins on Thursday night.

Huff, who was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
on Wednesday, homered to right-center in the eighth off reliever
Randy Messenger (1-5) to give the Astros a 5-1 lead.

"Any time you get to a new team, it's good to get in there and
contribute," Huff said.

Houston broke a three-game road losing streak, while the Marlins
lost for the fourth time in their last 13 home games.

Huff's homer was part of a four-run eighth. Willy Taveras
singled to lead off the inning and advanced to third as Chris Burke
reached when first baseman Mike Jacobs failed to handle a low throw
by shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Berkman drove in Taveras with a single
to right, and Huff followed with his homer, his second hit of the
game.

"It was a curveball," Huff said. "I was getting ready to hit
a fastball and he just left it up a little bit."

The 30-year-old Huff hit .283 with eight home runs and 28 RBI
in 63 games for the Devil Rays this season. The third baseman hit
safely in 20 of his last 23 games with Tampa Bay, batting .433 with
13 doubles, five homers and 16 RBI during the stretch.

Huff had a game-winning homer against the Marlins in May for the
Devil Rays, and is hitting .480 with three home runs and six RBI
against Florida this season.

"He's a good hitter," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "We
know that and he showed us that tonight."

The game began as a pitcher's duel between the Astros' Roy Oswalt and the Marlins' Dontrelle Willis -- but neither figured in
the decision.

Oswalt pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and six hits
while striking out four. He pitched at least six innings for the
17th time in his past 18 starts.

"If you keep the score close and let them score late, that's
your job," Oswalt said. "I just ran out of gas a little bit
toward the end."

Willis, who began the season 1-6, entered the game having won
five of his last six decisions. Willis went seven innings, allowing
one run and six hits while striking out five.

"I'll be all right. I'll continue to give the club a chance to
win," Willis said. "I won't die over it, but I am upset that we
lost."

Garner pulled Oswalt in the seventh after Jeremy Hermida and
Miguel Olivo reached with singles. Chad Qualls (4-2) came on and
got Reggie Abercrombie to ground into a fielder's choice and
pinch-hitter Cody Ross to pop up.

Willis hit Burke with a pitch in the sixth. Burke advanced to
third on Berkman's single. After Huff struck out, Preston Wilson
singled up the middle to drive in Burke and give the Astros a 1-0
lead.

Jacobs tied the game in the sixth with his 12th homer, a drive
into the stands in right.

Florida entered the game 12th in the league with 66 errors and
added three more by Jacobs, Ramirez and Willis.

"I'm not sure really why it happens," Marlins manager Joe
Girardi said. "We gave up extra outs, we get ahead of guys and
were not able to put them away. It could be that guys are just
trying too hard, or it could be that some of them are tough
plays."

Home plate umpire Rick Reed left the game with one out in the
bottom of the second inning, with a broken blood vessel in his
nose.

Game notes
Astros 2B Craig Biggio is one hit away from tying Zack
Wheat for 35th on the all-time list. He has 2,883 after going
hitless Thursday. ... When Willis hit Burke with the pitch it was
his 14th hit batter of the season, tops in the majors.