Homer barrage leads O's to first interleague sweep since 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) -- As a vintage tune by Pink Floyd blared throughout the clubhouse, the Baltimore Orioles celebrated their latest harrowing victory and packed their bags for a nine-game road trip.

Headed for Milwaukee, the Orioles spoke hopefully about building on a 5-1 homestand that ended Thursday night with a 7-5 victory over the woeful Houston Astros, completing a three-game sweep.

Baltimore played four straight one-run games -- two against Pittsburgh and two against Houston -- before George Sherrill blunted a ninth-inning uprising by the Astros, who have lost eight in a row.

"We're just doing enough to get by right now. I tell you, we'd really like a game where we just blow somebody out," said Aubrey Huff, who had one of Baltimore's three home runs. "But we'll take 'em any way we can get them."

Alex Cintron and Ramon Hernandez also homered for the Orioles, whose last three-game sweep of an interleague foe came in June 2005 -- at home against Houston. Baltimore fell behind 2-0 before winning for the 17th time when trailing by at least two runs.

"When you get a sweep, I don't care if it's easy, hard, indifferent or whatever, you'll take it," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "It's a positive occurrence around here. ... So on we go to National League-style baseball for the next nine days and we'll see what we got."

Brian Burres (6-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings to help the Orioles climb three games over .500 (37-34) for the first time since May 21.

Sherrill entered with the bases loaded in the ninth and gave up a sacrifice fly to Kazuo Matsui and a run-scoring infield hit to Miguel Tejada before retiring Lance Berkman on a short fly ball to earn his 24th save.

"That's all you can ask for is to get the tying run up to the plate," Berkman said. "Really, when you're facing that kind of deficit heading into the ninth, most of the time you're not going to get it done. Just to get the tying run up there is a good thing."

Tejada and Hunter Pence homered, and Berkman had three hits for the Astros, who have been outscored 57-28 during their eight-game skid. Houston has lost a franchise-record six straight interleague games and is 1-8 against AL foes.

"We have a lot of veterans on this team and guys who have been through it before," Berkman said. "It doesn't do a whole lot of good to panic. In fact, I think it's counterproductive. We've got to do something to right the ship. It's just been a tough last three weeks for us."

The defeat was Houston's 17th in 20 games. Only a loss by Cincinnati earlier in the day kept the Astros from dropping into last place in the NL Central.

"We have not been playing as good as we can," Houston manager Cecil Cooper conceded. "It's just one of those streaks you're in. You just got to keep playing hard. ... We just got to find a way to stop it. And we will."

Tejada went 2-for-5 and finished 2-for-12 in his first series against the Orioles since they traded him to the Astros in December.

Hernandez and Cintron hit solo homers in the fourth inning off Shawn Chacon (2-3) to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead. It was Hernandez's fifth of the season and Cintron's first.

The Orioles made it 6-2 in the fifth. Melvin Mora and Huff singled before Kevin Millar hit an RBI double. Chacon then got two outs before Jay Payton lined a two-run single over a leaping Matsui at second base.

"It's real, real frustrating. It seems like three of those balls that were hit were inches away from being caught," Chacon said. "There's nothing I can do."

Tejada led off the sixth with his 10th home run and Huff hit a solo shot off former Oriole Tim Byrdak in the seventh for a 7-3 lead.

The Astros went up 1-0 when Michael Bourn beat out a bunt on the game's first pitch, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Berkman. Pence led off the second with his ninth home run, his first this season on the road.

Baltimore got a run back in the third when Chacon issued three walks, the last to Millar with the bases loaded.

Game notes
The Astros are 3-13 in June. ... Tejada was robbed of a single on a diving play by 2B Brian Roberts in the seventh. ... Baltimore is 22-12 at home, 15-22 on the road.