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Astros Rally To First Place


The disabled list apparently agreed with Carl Everett.

Everett kept up a torrid pace with a two-run double that highlighted a five-run rally in the eighth inning Wednesday night, lifting the Houston Astros over Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 and putting them in sole possession of the NL Central lead.

"This was a team victory," Everett said. "Russ Johnson has been spectacular for us. He came up with the big hit to start us off. Then, we just kept going."

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  • Everett has been on a tear since coming off the disabled list Aug. 6. He's hitting .475 and has hit in eight of his 10 games since returning from a hamstring injury.

    The Astros won their third straight game and Milwaukee dropped its fourth in a row. Houston moved one game ahead of Cincinnati, which lost 12-6 to Pittsburgh.

    Milwaukee starter Hideo Nomo took a 4-1 lead into the eighth, but singles by pinch-hitter Johnson and Craig Biggio and a walk to pinch-hitter Ken Caminiti loaded the bases.

    With Jeff Bagwell at the plate, a wild pitch by reliever Eric Plunk (2-3) scored a run. After Bagwell struck out, Everett followed with a double to deep right field that tied it at 4.

    Astros manager Larry Dierker thought the Brewers might walk Everett.

    "They pitched to Jeff Bagwell and he's proven himself over th last 10 years," Everett said. "If they're going to pitch to Jeff Bagwell, I know they'll pitch to me."

    Everett stole third and Lance Berkman walked with one out. Reliever Bob Wickman struck out Bill Spiers before Paul Bako singled home the go-ahead run. Ricky Gutierrez also delivered an RBI single.

    Johnson is hitting .666 in his last nine at-bats as a pinch-hitter including a double, stolen base and three runs scored.

    "I was just trying to get on base and do my part," Johnson said. "This is a great team. Nomo pitched a great game and we had to fight back to win this game."

    Brian Williams (2-1) pitched the eighth for Houston and got the victory. Billy Wagner got his 30th save in 32 opportunities, striking out three in the ninth.

    Nomo allowed six hits in seven strong innings. At one stretch, he retired five batters on five pitches.

    "He pitched really well against this lineup," Brewers manager Jim Lefebvre said. "We have a lot of confidence when he pitches so I think we play better behind him."

    Houston starter Mike Hampton failed to become the first 17-game winner in the NL. Hampton remained tied for the lead with teammate Jose Lima and Kent Bottenfield of the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Hampton, who had won his last seven decisions, allowed five hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

    Everett walked to start the second inning and scored on Spiers' double. After that, Nomo was in control he retired the side on three pitches in third, then needed just six pitches to get through the fourth.

    The Brewers got to Hampton in the first inning with three hits and two runs. A sacrifice fly by Alex Ochoa and a single by Marquis Grissom his 1,500th career hit produced the runs.

    Grissom went 3-for-4 and also had an RBI single in the eighth inning off Williams.

    After Lou Collier got the Brewers' third hit in the first, Hampton retred 15 of the next 16 batters until Grissom tripled with two out in the sixth and scored on Collier's single.

    "I was mainly just throwing straight pitches and they were swinging at them," Nomo said. "This is my second toughest type of defeat. The first type is when I get the loss."

    Notes

  • Hampton has a 35-18 record over 96 starts at home.
  • Nomo has allowed an average of five hits per game and has not given up more than nine hits this season.
  • Wagner's last seven outs have come on strikeouts.

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