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Astros keep heat on Cards, drop Phils into wild-card tie

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The surging Houston Astros have put their
vacation plans on hold.

Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb's infield single drove in the go-ahead
run in the seventh inning, lifting the Astros to their sixth
straight victory, 5-4 over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday
night.

The Phillies (82-74) dropped into a tie with Los Angeles for the
NL wild-card lead. Both teams have six games remaining in the
regular season -- all on the road.

Meanwhile, the Astros (78-78) moved within 2½ games of NL
Central-leading St. Louis. Houston swept a four-game series against
the Cardinals last weekend to cut the gap.

A week ago, the Astros were 8½ games behind the Cardinals and
getting ready to break out their golf clubs and hit the beaches.
Now, they're putting pressure on St. Louis, which has lost six
straight.

Players were glued to the television in the clubhouse watching
the final inning of San Diego's 6-5 win in St. Louis. It made the
one-day trip to Philadelphia to make up a Sept. 5 rainout worth the
trouble.

"It turned out to be best for us," said manager Phil Garner,
whose team didn't arrive in Philadelphia until shortly before 4
a.m. EDT. "It worked out."

Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer off Dave Borkowski to give the
Phillies a 4-2 lead in the sixth, but the Astros answered against a
trio of relievers in the seventh.

Rick White got one out before walking Morgan Ensberg. Matt Smith
(0-1) entered and struck out Lance Berkman, but walked Luke Scott
and Chris Burke. Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro followed with a
tying, two-run single to left off Geoff Geary. Burke went to third
on the play when left fielder Pat Burrell's throw home skipped past
catcher Mike Lieberthal for an error.

Burke scored the go-ahead run on Lamb's sharp single off second
baseman Utley's glove. Utley dove to his left to stop the ball, but
couldn't control it.

"We got six games to play and it's a tie," Phillies manager
Charlie Manuel said. "We have to keep winning. We didn't let
anything slip away yet."

Borkowski (3-2) allowed two runs in one inning, but got the win.
Chad Qualls retired his only batter, pinch-hitter Chris Coste, to
leave a runner on third in the eighth. Dan Wheeler pitched the
ninth for his eighth save, getting Utley on a game-ending popup
that left Ryan Howard on deck.

Houston used nine pitchers.

"I can't even read my lineup card," Garner said.

After falling behind 2-1, the Astros tied it on Jason Lane's
solo shot with one out in the sixth off Phillies starter Randy Wolf. Lane lined one into the seats in right-center for his 15th
homer.

But Rollins drove his 25th homer into the seats in right-center
to put Philadelphia ahead.

Rollins pointed to teammates in the dugout as he began his jog
around the bases and earned a curtain call from the sellout crowd
of 44,688 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies scored two runs off Wandy Rodriguez in the fifth.
With the crowd chanting "M-V-P!" and standing the entire at-bat,
Howard ripped a single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch to score two
runs, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

Ensberg's sacrifice fly in the fifth drove in the first run.

Philadelphia left the bases loaded twice. Lieberthal fouled out
to catcher Humberto Quintero to end the fourth, and Burrell hit a
shallow fly to right in the sixth.

"We have a resilient group," Wolf said. "We have a good mix
of young guys and veterans who keep a cool head."

The Phillies play three games at Washington and Florida, while
the Dodgers have three games in Colorado and San Francisco. If the
teams finish tied, a one-game playoff would be played next Monday
in Philadelphia.

The Astros finish with three games in Pittsburgh and three in
Atlanta.

"We can play with anybody," Palmeiro said.

Chris Sampson made his second career start for the Astros,
lasting 3 2/3 innings and allowing three hits.

Game notes
It was the 17th sellout of the season for the Phillies,
pushing the final attendance to 2,701,815, the third-highest total
in team history. ... Howard, who leads the majors with 58 homers,
tied Chuck Klein (1929) for fourth place on the club's
single-season list for RBI with 145. ... Wolf remained 4-0 and
hasn't lost since May 4, 2005, a span of 18 starts. The Phillies
fell to 13-3 in his last 16 starts.