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Astros win just third game away from Houston

CHICAGO (AP) -- Brandon Backe wanted to be the guy who stopped
the Houston Astros' seven-game losing streak, so he went after the
Chicago Cubs with more than just his pitches Wednesday night.

In addition to allowing a run and seven hits in seven-plus
innings, he chipped in offensively. Backe had a single, his first
major league stolen base, a sacrifice and scored a run as the
Astros ended the drought with a 5-1 victory.

"I used to be a position player and that's kind of my
mentality," said Backe, a converted outfielder. "I love all
aspects of the game and I want to do well in all of them."

The Astros had to just love winning, capturing their third road
victory in 24 tries this season.

Houston had managed just 59 runs on the road before Wednesday
night, so scoring five -- three in the eighth inning -- was almost as
surprising as it was welcome.

"We got a lot of guys due for a win. Our guys have pitched well
and they deserve a lot more. It sure feels good to look up at the
board and see five runs," Houston manager Phil Garner said.

Morgan Ensberg's ninth homer and sixth in his last 16 games
broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth, and the Astros sealed the
long-awaited victory by knocking out Greg Maddux with the three-run
eighth.

"We've done a poor job of not only scoring runs, but holding
those leads. So one run in my eyes, although it helps ease off a
little of the pressure, I still wasn't so relaxed as I was in the
ninth with a four-run lead," Ensberg said.

"It's not fun when you win one game and you're so incredibly
giddy by the fact that you've won one game."

Backe (4-3) got his first win in six road starts and helped the
Astros score first in the third when he singled off Maddux with two
outs before stealing second.

"He's a little slow to the plate and I've got a little bit of
speed," Backe said.

"I didn't like that," Maddux said of giving up a hit and
stolen base to the opposing pitcher.

After Backe's steal, Orlando Palmeiro delivered an RBI single.

Maddux (2-3) allowed five runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings,
and Chicago hasn't given him a lot of support.

The Cubs have scored 37 runs in Maddux's 10 starts and only 28
while he was in the game.

"It's hard to believe his record is 2-3. I'm frustrated for
him," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said.

And with just two wins in the first two months, Maddux's major
league-record streak of 17 straight seasons with at least 15
victories could be in jeopardy.

"I'll just pitch and see what happens," Maddux said. "I'll
get ready for my next start and go from there."

Brad Ausmus started the eighth with a single and Backe
sacrificed him to second. A wild pitch by Maddux got him to third
before Todd Self came through with a two-out RBI single to make it
3-1.

Craig Biggio then beat out an infield hit before Lance Berkman --
batting .179 entering the game -- hit a two-out single off Michael
Wuertz to make it 4-1. Reliever Will Ohman's wild pitch allowed
Houston's third run of the inning to score.

"We went to the bullpen and things went awry from there," Cubs
manager Dusty Baker said.

The Cubs got their run in the third when Barrett singled, Maddux
sacrificed, Jerry Hairston walked and Neifi Perez hit an RBI
single.

Chicago had first and third and one out in the sixth on Perez's
double and an infield hit by Derrek Lee, but Backe got Jeromy
Burnitz on a popup and Aramis Ramirez on a liner to center.

Game notes
The game took only 2 hours, 21 minutes to play. ... Houston
turned three double plays. ... The Cubs activated Todd Walker off
the disabled list and he went 0-for-3. He was on the DL since
mid-April with a left knee sprain. LHP Mike Remlinger, who
fractured his finger when it got pinched between two chairs in the
clubhouse, was put on the DL. ... Houston's Roger Clemens was sore
Wednesday after a tight groin forced him out after five innings
Tuesday night. Garner said he's still expecting Clemens to make his
next start Monday. ... One of Maddux's wins this season came
against the Astros on April 29 in Houston. ... Ramirez is in a
2-for-22 slump.