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Berkman, Hirsh help Astros get by without Clemens

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Houston manager Phil Garner isn't worrying
about the standings until his Astros reach the .500 mark.

Lance Berkman had two home runs and four RBI, and Jason Hirsh
pitched six-plus strong innings to lead the Houston Astros to a
10-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.

Houston won its third straight game to move into second place in
the NL Central, one-half game ahead of Cincinnati. The last time
the Astros (70-71) were in second was May 6.

"We're one game closer to .500 and that's our goal," Garner
said. "We want to get to .500. We got there [before] and had
trouble pushing over. We've got to get over the hump."

Berkman agreed: "It's what we've said all along. We've got to
get to .500 before we can even think about making a run at the
postseason. We've been close a couple times but haven't been able
to get over the hump. Maybe this is the time we can get over .500
and make up some ground on these guys we've been chasin'."

Adam Everett and Luke Scott also homered for Houston, sending
Milwaukee to its third straight loss and 13th in 15 games.

"We didn't hit the ball against [Hirsh]," Milwaukee manager
Ned Yost said. "We didn't do much against him. It was just one of
those nights where we got beat."

Hirsh (3-3) gave up four hits while starting for Roger Clemens,
who remains day-to-day after he left Monday's game with a strained
right groin. Houston starters have allowed three runs or fewer in
each of the last 11 games.

"My mentality going out there is a lot better," Hirsh said.
"I'm just going out there throwing strikes and letting the ball
work. It definitely makes it easier to go out and throw strikes. A
lot less pressure. It's a lot more comfortable when you have a
lead."

Berkman homered in the first to give Houston a 3-0 lead and
added a solo shot, his 39th of the season, in the seventh. In his
last three games, Berkman is 7-for-11 with eight RBI.

"The three-run home run by Berkman was large," Garner said.
"That puts a damper on them right away. It puts the defense on
their heels because they can't throw the ball over the plate. We
take advantage of it by scoring a bunch of runs."

Milwaukee starter Tomo Ohka (4-5) allowed six earned runs, five
walks and three hits in two-plus innings. It was the right-hander's
shortest outing since he threw two innings with Montreal against
Florida on Sept. 6, 2003.

Ohka, who threw 36 pitches in the first inning, has just one
victory in his last nine starts and dropped to 1-4 in eight career
starts against Houston.

"He struggled with his command from the get-go," Yost said.

Scott hit a two-run triple for a 6-0 lead in the third and
Everett followed with a two-run homer, his fifth of the season, two
batters later.

After Milwaukee's David Bell hit his eighth home run of the
season in the third to make it 8-1, Scott connected on a solo shot
in the fifth, his fifth of the season.

Bell had an RBI single in the seventh and Corey Hart hit his
eighth homer, a two-run shot in the eighth, to close the scoring.

"It's tough when you look up and you're already down eight,"
Hart said. "But that was early. We still had a chance. But it
definitely makes for a long night."

Game notes
Houston is 10-4 against Milwaukee this year. ... Berkman
has five multihomer games this year and 19 in his career. ...
Damian Miller pinch-hit in the third inning after he left the game
Friday with a concussion after being hit by a pitch. ... Milwaukee
reliever Chris Spurling, claimed off waivers from Detroit on
Friday, entered the game in the fourth and extended the Brewers'
franchise record to 27 pitchers used this season. ... Hirsh earned
his first major league win against Milwaukee on Aug. 17. ... Ohka
had pitched at least four innings in every start this year.