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Pettitte pitches streaking Astros to sweep of Brewers

HOUSTON (AP) -- The starter pitched well, the batters got timely
hits and Brad Lidge finished off an opponent in the ninth.

That's how the Houston Astros won games last season and they're
doing it again in time for another late surge toward the playoffs.

Craig Biggio homered and Andy Pettitte struck out five in seven
solid innings Thursday night as the Astros won their season-high
sixth straight game and completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers
with a 5-3 victory.

"We got contributions from everybody, just doing enough," said
Biggio. "It's just nice to start playing well again, playing well
as a team."

Willy Taveras, Brad Ausmus and Lance Berkman added RBI for the
defending NL champions, who have won six in a row heading into a
weekend series with the New York Mets.

"Every game is extremely important and we've been playing it
like that for the last couple of weeks," said Pettitte.

Pettitte (13-13) won his second straight start, allowing five
hits with a walk. Doug Davis (9-9) took the loss after giving up
six hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost and first baseman Jeff Cirillo were
ejected in the first inning as the Brewers lost their season-high
seventh straight road game.

Prince Fielder replaced Cirillo and snapped out of an 0-for-17
slump with an RBI single off Pettitte and a two-out solo homer in
the eighth off Dan Wheeler. The Astros' set-up man hadn't allowed a
run since June 24, a span of 20 appearances and 17 1/3 innings.

But Wheeler struck out Bill Hall to end the inning and Lidge
shut out Milwaukee in the ninth, earning his 100th career save and
his 28th in 33 appearances this season.

"It definitely feels great," Lidge said of his milestone. "I
know it's early in my career, but when you do it in a win, it's
obviously the best feeling there is."

The Brewers, meanwhile, haven't won a road game since Aug. 18
and this bad night away from home started when Brady Clark grounded
out leading off the game and got into a shouting match with
first-base umpire Tim Timmons. Clark was clearly out, but the two
had a heated exchange as first-base coach Dave Nelson held Clark
back and Yost ran out of the dugout to argue.

After Tony Graffanino's fly out, Cirillo grounded to Biggio, the
second baseman, and Timmons called Cirillo out on a close play.
Cirillo slammed his helmet down and yelled at Timmons as Yost
sprinted out again. Timmons ejected both of them.

Timmons refused to comment after the game, but Cirillo had
plenty to say.

"I didn't know what was going on with Brady and them," he
said. "And then when Brady grounded out, he (Timmons) stared at
him and punched him out aggressively.

"On my play, I would hate to think that he would sacrifice his
job performance on a personal issue," Cirillo said. "I mean, I
give everyone the benefit of the doubt unless it's something that
was totally blatant."

The Brewers regrouped in the third with the help of an Astros'
error.

Damian Miller singled leading off and Clark grounded to third
baseman Morgan Ensberg, who made a bad throw to Biggio trying to
start a double play. Graffanino then fouled off six straight 3-2
pitches from Pettitte before drilling an RBI single to right,
ending a 13-inning scoreless streak for Milwaukee.

Fielder followed with a single to right to score Clark.

Pettitte helped himself in the Astros' third, singling to right,
the first hit off Davis. Pettitte went to second on Taveras' bunt
and score on Berkman's single to left.

Pettitte retired nine in a row after Fielder's hit and Davis
retired nine of the next 11 batters he faced after Pettitte's hit.

Chris Burke opened the seventh with a single up the middle to
spark the Astros' rally. Ausmus, batting .500 in his last five
games, then ripped a double down the left-field line to tie the
game.

Aubrey Huff, who won Wednesday's game with a bases-loaded ground
out in the ninth inning, pinch hit for Pettitte and flew out to
deep center, allowing Ausmus to tag up to third.

With the infield drawn in, Taveras hit a high bouncer over third
baseman David Bell, his first hit since his 30-game hitting streak
ended on Tuesday night.

Rick Helling replaced Davis after that and Biggio hammered a 3-2
pitch into the left-field porch, his 18th homer of the season.

Game notes
Biggio has 278 career homers. ... Houston RF Jason Lane hit
a popup off the closed retractable roof in the sixth inning. ...
Cirillo was tossed for the second time and Yost for the sixth time
this season. ... Fielder hit his 24th homer, extending the Brewers'
rookie record.