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Another strong Oswalt start keeps Astros in hunt

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Roy Oswalt was not in the mood to celebrate his
win.

Oswalt allowed five hits in seven strong innings for his sixth
victory in his last seven decisions and Aubrey Huff and Morgan Ensberg homered to help the Houston Astros stay close in the NL
wild card race with a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on
Friday night.

The Astros (69-71) came in five games behind the San Diego Padres for the wild card with 22 games to play in their bid for a
third consecutive playoff appearance.

Oswalt (12-8) tied his season high with nine strikeouts. His
only real trouble came when he hit Damian Miler in the head with the bases
loaded to force in the tying run in the seventh. Miller dropped to
the ground and laid motionless for a few moments. Astros catcher
Brad Ausmus immediately knelt over him as the Brewers' trainer
raced out to home plate. Miller walked off the field.

"Why would I want to hit somebody with the bases loaded?"
Oswalt asked, and then explained how the pitch sailed on him. "I
got halfway through the pitch, and I don't know, I just let it go,
and it rode up and in. When I first threw it, I thought I threw it
behind him."

Oswalt said that errant pitch may be a result of getting hit in
the right wrist by a line drive off the bat of the Chicago Cubs'
Ronny Cedeno four starts ago.

"I just got right through my delivery and my wrist just
popped," Oswalt said. "When it locked up, I just let the ball
go."

Oswalt said the next two pitches felt fine as pinch-hitter Jeff
Cirillo hit into a double play to end the inning.

Miller said that he was more scared than anything.

"I remember Ausmus standing over me," said Miller, who has a
Grade 1 concussion. "He was pretty concerned.

"Right now I feel OK. It's a little sore where I got hit."

Miller missed five games after taking a foul tip to the mask
against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 24

Huff's solo shot off Jose Capellan (2-2) in the top of the
eighth gave Oswalt the win and helped the Astros improve to 9-3 in
their last 12 games.

"To go out there today to get a big win for Roy is huge," Huff
said.

Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect eighth inning and Brad Lidge
struck out three batters for his 31st save in 36 chances.

Oswalt surrendered Corey Hart's home run with two out in the
second and then retired the next 10 batters before Miller led off
the sixth with a single. Ben Sheets reached on a fielder's choice
and raced home when Brady Clark's grounder down the third base line
bounced off the base of the grandstand wall and sharply away from
left fielder Luke Scott.

Sheets allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He
struck out six and left the game with a 2-1 lead and two out in the
seventh after giving up a double to Willy Taveras.

"My pitch count was up," said Sheets, who threw 112 pitches.
I'm sure that was a big factor."

Brian Shouse took over and gave up a pinch-hit homer to Ensberg.
It was his 21st home run this season and third career pinch-hit
homer.

"That was a great piece of hitting by Ensberg," Brewers
manager Ned Yost said. "He's a dead pull hitter, and he took a
pitch that was out over the plate the other way."

Huff's sacrifice fly in the first gave the Astros a 1-0 lead,
but Hart tied the game in the second.

Game notes
Roger Clemens (6-4, 2.27 ERA) will miss his start Saturday
against the Brewers. He left Monday night's game at Philadelphia
after five innings with a strained right groin. "He's just not
ready to go," Astros manager Phil Garner said. Clemens might not
pitch until the team returns to Houston after this six-game road
trip ends. ... The Brewers claimed RP Chris Spurling off waivers
from the Detroit Tigers on Friday and transferred RP Matt Wise to
the 60-day disabled list. Wise underwent season-ending surgery
Thursday on his right elbow. ... Adam Everett snapped an 0-for-11
streak with a double in the second.