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Bagwell hits 30 or more HRs for eighth straight year

8/27/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeff Bagwell doesn't care much about his homers.

Bagwell became the 13th player in major league history to hit 30
or more homers in eight consecutive seasons, leading the Houston
Astros over the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 Wednesday night.

"Thirty home runs don't mean a lot," he said. "It's not the
biggest stat to me. The most important stat to me is run
production, RBI and runs. Think about it: Those home runs are only
30 at-bats a year. What do you do with the rest of your season?"

Houston won its third straight and increased its NL Central lead
to one game. Los Angeles has lost four in a row but remained 2{
games back in the crowded NL wild-card race.

"Every win is big right now," Bagwell said. "We've got 30
games left right now, and we're going to have to find a way to come
out one game ahead."

Bagwell hit a three-run homer in a a four-run first inning, the
410th home run of his career. He's hit safely in 31 of his last 41
games and has a .308 average over that span with 15 homers and 36
RBI.

"It was an opposite-field homer, and that's tough to do so
Bagwell probably hit a pretty good pitch," manager Jimy Williams
said. "Jeff just happened to hit a ball just right and with two
on. That made it even bigger."

Wade Miller (11-11) won for the fourth time in five decisions,
allowing an unearned run and seven hits in seven innings.

"My fastball was my key pitch, I was throwing everything for
strikes so I was able to get ahead," Miller said. "It was a great
team effort. We played great defense and we played good all the way
around."

Shortstop Adam Everett helped Miller out of trouble in the
first. With two on and two outs, Adrian Beltre hit a grounder up
the middle that Everett gloved and threw to first for the inning's
final out.

Hideo Nomo (15-10) gave up six runs -- five earned -- seven hits
and four walks in five innings.

"I didn't want to get beat with my fastball," Nomo said. "But
I did. Overall, I didn't feel bad. I felt good. All I can say is
that the opponent was better than us. Bagwell's homer in the first
inning hurt."

Houston, which had 17 hits in Tuesday's 18-4 rout, took a 4-0
lead in the first on Bagwell's homer and Lance Berkman's RBI
double, a long drive to the center-field hill.

Los Angeles loaded the bases with two outs in the third, and
Beltre hit an RBI single to right. Richard Hidalgo threw out Paul
Lo Duca at the plate trying to score from second, giving him a
major league-leading 21 outfield assists.

"He's unbelievable," Geoff Blum said of Hidalgo. "I don't
know the most underrated player, but he has the most underrated
arm. People keep taking him for granted, and he keeps throwing them
out."

Consecutive RBI singles by Brad Ausmus and Everett made it 6-1
in the fifth.

"We had opportunities early with multiple runners in scoring
position," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "But we couldn't come
up with a big at-bat. That's troubled us all season."

Falling behind early was the key to the loss, Tracy said.

"Hideo made a bad pitch to Jeff Bagwell," Tracy said. "He was
trying to get it in, and he left it over the plate, and then
Berkman crushed one and that gave them a 4-0 lead. I think tonight
was the 34th time this year we've scored one run or less, so for us
to give up four is a tough hole for us."

The Dodgers are 2-32 in those games, including a league-high 10
losses.

Game notes
Fred McGriff is hitting .397 (23-for-58) for his career at
Minute Maid Park. ... Houston is 61-2 this season when leading
after eight innings. ... Roberts got his 17th bunt single of the
season in the fifth inning.