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Pettitte hits first career HR, pitches Astros past Padres

HOUSTON (AP) -- Andy Pettitte threw a gem, hit a homer and
quieted the pitching ace in the locker next to his.

Pettitte hit his first career homer and matched a season high
with 10 strikeouts to lead the Houston Astros over the San Diego
Padres 4-2 on Friday night.

Pettitte's homer off Chan Ho Park came two days after Roy Oswalt
hit his first career homer in a 14-1 win over Pittsburgh.

"It was nice, for one reason," Pettitte said. "Now, we don't
have to listen to him too much."

Oswalt retrieved his home-run ball from the fan who caught it,
trading it for an autographed bat. He chided that he gave the fan
one of Pettitte's bats because of how little they're used.

The jokes can stop right there.

"That was a dagger to the heart," a smiling Pettitte said of
Oswalt's homer, "but now it's not anymore."

After Pettitte homered in the fourth inning, Oswalt was the
first Astro to greet Pettitte when he returned to the dugout.

Like Oswalt on Wednesday, the fans held their standing ovation
until Pettitte acknowledged them with a wave. While Oswalt hit his
with a comfortable lead, Pettitte's drive tied Friday's game at
2-2.

"Roy had a little more room to relax," Pettitte said. "The
way the season's going and the way I've been throwing the ball, I
had a lot more on my mind than a curtain call."

But Pettitte (11-12) was untouchable after a rocky third inning
and Craig Biggio doubled and scored the go-ahead run on Park's wild
pitch in the fifth to help the Astros win for the eighth time in 10
games. Lance Berkman added a solo homer off San Diego's Alan
Embree.

Brad Lidge shut out the Padres in the ninth to earn his 26th
save in 30 chances.

Park (7-7) lasted five innings in his first start since being
treated for intestinal bleeding with blood transfusions last week.
Park allowed three runs and eight hits. He struck out three and
walked two.

"For the layoff and what he's gone through, he threw the ball
well," said San Diego manager Bruce Bochy. "He had some bad luck.
But overall, I thought he had good stuff."

For the second time in 10 days, Pettitte turned in one of his
best outings of the season against the Padres, who've lost four in
a row and 10 of their last 14.

Pettitte shut out San Diego with eight strikeouts in six innings
in Houston's 1-0 win at Petco Park on Aug. 1. He retired the first
six batters he faced Friday, striking out three.

Brad Ausmus scored Adam Everett on a squeeze bunt to give
Pettitte a 1-0 lead in the second.

Everett led off with a triple after left fielder Ben Johnson
couldn't make a diving catch in the corner. Ausmus, who had a pair
of RBI singles in Thursday's 5-2 win over Pittsburgh, dropped a
well-placed bunt between the mound and first base and Everett
scored easily.

The Padres got all three of their hits in the third.

Mark Bellhorn and Johnson led off with singles and Josh Barfield
walked to load the bases. Brian Giles then beat out a slow grounder
that Berkman misplayed between first and second and Bellhorn scored
the tying run.

Mike Cameron followed with a sacrifice fly that sent center
fielder Willy Taveras to the warning track.

Pettitte fanned Mike Piazza to end the inning, then struck out
Khalil Greene and Bellhorn in the fourth. Pettitte then delivered
his biggest highlight in the bottom of the inning.

With two outs, the career .118 hitter hammered Park's first
pitch into the right-field seats.

"I've been feeling real good at the plate, but seriously, I'm
never up there trying to hit a home run," he said. "I just
happened to run into one. I got lucky."

Pettitte can't remember ever hitting a home run, even as a
Little Leaguer.

After the game, Pettitte met Sophie Belle Michael, the
six-year-old girl who picked up the home-run ball when it hit her
seat. Pettitte signed her baseball cap, gave her a bat and posed
for pictures with the girl and her family.

"That's pretty neat," Pettitte said.

Biggio led off the fifth with a double to left and went to third
on Berkman's groundout. Aubrey Huff flied out before Park threw a
2-0 pitch to Ensberg that hit the dirt and skipped over Piazza's
shoulder, allowing Biggio to score.

Pettitte retired the final 14 Padres he faced after Giles'
single in the third. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Bellhorn in
the seventh, matching his highest strikeout total since a 12-0 win
over Florida on July 15.

Embree started the seventh and Berkman led off by driving a 3-2
pitch into the left-field seats. Berkman's 31st homer was his fifth
batting right-handed.

Game notes
The Astros have won their last three series openers. ...
Taveras singled to right in the first inning, extending his hitting
streak to 14 games. Taveras also had two steals to raise his
team-leading total to 19. ... Giles made a running catch on Ausmus'
liner down the right-field line and ended up plunging headfirst
into the first row. ... Pettitte has struck out 12 in a game on two
occasions, the last in 2002.