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Bruntlett's sac fly gives Astros win over Nationals

HOUSTON (AP) -- Eric Bruntlett sat in the Houston Astros' dugout
for hours on Monday wondering, as he usually does, whether he would
play.

When manager Phil Garner finally called on his valued reserve in
the 12th inning, Bruntlett produced a game-winning sacrifice fly
that scored Craig Biggio in a 5-4 win over the Washington
Nationals.

"You've been sitting around for three-plus hours, and then you
have to come in and get the job done," Bruntlett said. "It isn't
easy."

Bruntlett is used to it. He won two games last season in the
Astros' final at-bat, including a three-run homer that ended a
14-inning game in Washington last July.

"He's tremendous," Lance Berkman said. "The thing that makes
him so good is he can sit over there for a week with almost no
activity, and when you call upon him, he's always ready to go."

Biggio led off the 12th inning with a double and advanced on
Willy Taveras' bunt. Biggio was 0-for-5 before lining his 608th
double off the metal scoreboard in left field.

"He didn't have a lot of good swings," Garner said of Biggio.
"True to the Hall of Fame moniker he'll be wearing, he came
through."

Mike Stanton (0-1) intentionally walked Berkman and Morgan
Ensberg, who had homered off Chad Cordero in the 10th to tie the
game at 4-4.

Bruntlett, pinch hitting for reliever Chad Qualls, hit a high
fly to center fielder Brandon Watson, and Biggio crouched at third
as he awaited the catch. Watson's throw home was high and late, and
Biggio easily slid in with the winning run.

Bruntlett's fly ball was shallow, but Biggio noticed Watson went
flat-footed for a split-second before throwing home. Third-base
coach Doug Mansolino told Biggio to go.

"I'm just trying to get the best jump I can," Biggio said.
"If he tells me to go, I'm going."

Houston took three out of four from the Nationals, who play
their home opener Tuesday against the New York Mets.

Jose Vidro, who had eight RBI in the series, was looking
forward to heading home after starting the season with seven
straight road games.

"I thought we could've won more than two," Vidro said.
"2-and-five. Basically, I'm not pleased with that. We've got to go
home and get back on the right track."

Berkman and Preston Wilson homered for Houston -- the fourth time
they've homered in the same game.

"It's one of those anomalies," Berkman said. "I couldn't tell
you what's going on."

Wilson, acquired in January to boost the Astros' offense, had a
simpler explanation.

"I'm jealous," he said with a smile. "Hopefully, we'll keep
it up."

Washington, which trailed 3-1, went ahead 4-3 when pinch-hitter
Daryle Ward hit a solo homer off Brad Lidge in the 10th.

Ensberg answered in the bottom half against Cordero with his
first home run of the season.

Lidge, who gave up homers to Albert Pujols in the NL
championship series and Scott Podsednik in the World Series, was
replaced in the 11th by Chad Qualls (1-1), who got the final six
outs.

"Brad, obviously, didn't want to take the loss," Ensberg said.
"I think he was pretty happy when he saw that ball go over the
fence."

Vidro had two RBI singles for the Nationals, who played the
series finale without manager Frank Robinson. Bench coach Eddie
Rodriguez led the team as Robinson served a one-game suspension for
his role in last Thursday's game against the New York Mets, in
which five batters were hit by pitches.

Nationals starter John Patterson gave up three runs and five
hits in six innings, and Houston's Wandy Rodriguez allowed three
runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Berkman hit his third first-inning homer of the season, and
Wilson homered in the second for a 2-0 lead. Wilson also crashed
into the left-field wall to catch a deep fly by Nick Johnson and
Berkman leaned into the crowd to snare a foul by Matt LeCroy.

Vidro had his first RBI single in the third, and Eric Munson hit
a sacrifice fly that made it 3-1 in the fourth. Byrd grounded into
a run-scoring double play in the fifth, and Vidro's single later in
the inning tied it.

Game Notes
Berkman, a switch hitter, has hit all four of his homers
from the left side. ... Vice President Dick Cheney is to throw out
the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals' home opener Tuesday
against the New York Mets. ... The Nationals have been outscored
19-7 in the first through third innings.