HOUSTON (AP) -- Lance Berkman talked his way into the lineup on
Wednesday night and Houston manager Phil Garner was glad he did.
Berkman homered twice and Craig Biggio added a solo shot as the
Astros rallied from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-5.Berkman was a game-time decision for Garner after injuring his
left groin in Sunday's win in New York. Garner thought Berkman
looked gimpy running the bases during batting practice, but Berkman
persisted."When we watched him, the first couple of times he ran, we
weren't sure he was going to be able to play," Garner said. "He
continued to talk and he talked me into it."Berkman made sure he didn't have to do much baserunning.His first homer, a three-run shot to right-center, capped a
six-run fifth inning off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (9-7). Berkman
added a solo homer to center field in the seventh for his fourth
multi-homer game of the season."I told him I could go and I showed him I could go," Berkman
said of his conversation with Garner.The Astros came back from four runs down for the second time
this season and snapped a four-game losing streak at Minute Maid
Park. They also ended a four-game skid to the Reds, who've lost
seven of their last nine road games.Houston is still five games under .500 and five games behind
Cincinnati -- with five teams in between -- in the race for the NL
wild card."You just start playing well and you hope it lasts," Berkman
said. "If we come out tomorrow and fall flat, this doesn't mean
anything."Arroyo dropped to 0-4 since winning at New York on June 19. He
tied a career high by giving up three homers.Arroyo was virtually unhittable for three innings after Biggio
launched his fourth pitch into the left-field seats. Biggio's sixth
leadoff homer of the season was the 50th of his career, which
trails only Rickey Henderson's 80.Astros starter Andy Pettitte (9-10) couldn't hold the lead long.
Rich Aurilia hit his 13th homer of the season in the second, the
21st home run given up by Pettitte this year.Aurilia led off the fourth with a single to right and Adam Dunn
followed with a double off the fence in left-center.Aurilia scored on Edwin Encarnacion's bat-splitting single that
Biggio fielded behind second base. Encarnacion's splintered barrel
spiraled into the netting behind home plate.Brandon Phillips then lined a single to right fielder Luke Scott, who fired a long throw to third baseman Aubrey Huff trying
to get Encarnacion. But the ball skipped past Huff and into the
Reds' dugout, allowing Encarnacion to score behind Dunn for a 4-1
lead.Aurilia, just 2-for-15 against Pettitte before Wednesday,
tripled off the right-field wall in the fifth and scored on Dunn's
double down the right-field line.Pettitte left after that, but still won for the third time in
five starts, despite allowing 11 hits."This was another pathetic outing by me," said Pettitte.
"Praise these guys, praise the bullpen, praise the hitters -- but
not me. When I'm not getting anybody out, it's like batting
practice."Arroyo, meanwhile, retired 10 in a row after a walk to Preston Wilson in the first, struck out the side in the third and fanned
Huff leading off the fourth.But he crumbled in the fifth against the NL's second-lowest
scoring offense.Brad Ausmus led off with a double and Arroyo hit Adam Everett
with a pitch. Willy Taveras, pinch-hitting for Pettitte, beat out a
grounder up the middle to load the bases before RBI singles by
Biggio and Chris Burke."It was one of those things -- it blows up on you," Arroyo
said. "What are you going to do? They beat me up."Berkman then sent his 27th homer deep to right-center. The
three-run blast was Berkman's 23rd this season batting left-handed
and boosted his NL-leading RBI total to 91."That was good for us. We were due for an inning like that,"
Berkman said. "We're more than capable and we know we should be
doing that more often."Reds manager Jerry Narron stuck with Arroyo into the seventh,
but Berkman hit an 0-1 pitch an estimated 452 feet to center.
Berkman came in 5-for-13 against Arroyo."He's an outstanding hitter and one of the best hitters in
baseball and he's got pretty good numbers off of Bronson," Narron
admitted.The Astros' bullpen did the rest, allowing only two hits in the
final four innings. Dan Wheeler finished for his second save."You have to give them credit," said Aurilia, a double short
of hitting for the cycle. "They didn't just lay down and die after
they were down."
The Astros rallied from four runs down to win for the first
time since May 28, when they trailed 4-0 in Pittsburgh and won 5-4
in 10 innings. ... Berkman has 18 career multi-homer games. ...
Pettitte picked off Ryan Freel in the first inning. Pettitte's 76
career pickoffs ranks second among active pitchers behind Kenny Rogers' 86. ... Dunn had four hits, tying a career high. ...The
Astros' bullpen hasn't allowed a run in 20 1/3 innings, its longest
scoreless streak of the season.