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Vargas, D-backs deny Astros, keep West lead at two

PHOENIX (AP) -- A sacrifice bunt by the cleanup batter,
spectacular defense by a rookie shortstop and yet another double by
Luis Gonzalez.

Throw in a solid outing for Claudio Vargas and Eric Byrnes'
second home run in as many games, and the Arizona Diamondbacks
escaped with a 4-3 victory over Andy Pettitte and the Houston
Astros Sunday.

"This was a big win for us," Gonzalez said. "We beat a pretty
tough pitcher."

Vargas threw six innings and Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run
after hitting his 534th career double.

Carlos Quentin's broken-bat single brought Gonzalez home from
third to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth as the Diamondbacks salvaged
the third game of the series.

"To come back, keep grinding, that's a big win for us there,"
Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "To pull that one out today after
getting behind like that and not having a great feeling in the
early innings is a testament to some perseverance."

Gonzalez led off the inning with a double into the right-field
corner to tie Lou Gehrig for 26th on the career doubles list. Conor
Jackson, acting on his own, moved Gonzalez to third with a
sacrifice.

"I don't know if he's ever bunted in his career," Melvin said.
"So he's probably one-for-one."

Eric Byrnes homered for the second consecutive game for Arizona,
his team-leading 18th of the season. The 440-foot solo shot to
left-center with two outs in the seventh made it 4-2.

Vargas (9-8), who threw a season-high 113 pitches, gave up a
two-run homer to Lance Berkman in the first, then blanked the
Astros for the next five innings. He allowed six hits, struck out
six, walked two and hit a batter in his only his third victory in
his last 11 starts.

Luis Vizcaino and Tony Pena each pitched a scoreless inning
before Jorge Julio entered in the ninth for the Diamondbacks. He
allowed Aubrey Huff's run-scoring single, then struck out Morgan
Ensberg with runners on first and third for his 14th save in 17
tries.

Pettitte (10-12), 1-5 against Arizona in his career, gave up
four runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out six and
walked one.

"We didn't play that bad," Pettitte said. "They just played a
good game."

Stephen Drew was 2-for-3 with a double and made a spectacular
play to rob Pettitte of a hit in the sixth. The rookie shortstop
made a diving stop to his left, then threw the runner out from his
knees.

"I can't say enough about Stephen Drew and the plays that he
made out there," Byrnes said. "He was the story of the game, man.
It was fun to watch. He's really impressed me defensively with the
bat, the way he handles himself and carries himself around the
clubhouse. He's been a real big boost for us lately."

Houston finished its trip 4-2.

"I'll take it, but we had a chance to sweep this series and we
had a chance to sweep the series in San Diego," Houston manager
Phil Garner said, "and we've got to close the door."

Willy Taveras led off the game with a single, then Adam Everett
reached on a fielder's choice. Berkman followed, and hit a 3-0
pitch 414 feet, just above the home-run line in straightaway
center, his 30th homer of the season.

The Diamondbacks tied it at 2 in the third. Chris Snyder drew a
leadoff walk, then Drew doubled off the wall in left to put runners
at second and third with no outs. Vargas' broken-bat groundout
brought home Snyder, then with two outs, Damion Easley's sharp
grounder took a bad bounce at third for a base hit that scored
Drew.

Vargas escaped a jam in the third after Ensberg walked and Luke
Scott singled to start the inning. The Diamondbacks failed to
convert Chris Burke's grounder into a double play, but got the out
at second while Ensberg went to third with one out. He was stranded
when Brad Ausmus hit into a double play.

The Astros loaded the bases in the fourth, thanks to Vargas'
throwing error that would have been the third out. But Ensberg
grounded out to end the threat. Arizona also turned a double play
to escape the seventh.

Houston stranded 11 runners.

"We had our chances," Garner said. "We had some really got at
bats today. Unfortunately, we just didn't get the hits we
needed."

Game notes
Arizona OF Jeff DaVanon, who sprained his left ankle
sliding into second Saturday night, is expected to be sidelined for
at least two games. ... The Diamondbacks again have no left-handers
on their staff after they designated LHP Randy Choate for
assignment. ... Gonzalez leads the NL with 39 doubles. ... Houston
scored 17 runs in the first two games of the series.