Sure it was special. Don't let the Houston Astros' straight faces fool you.
There was no more celebration than usual after their 7-5 victory Friday night ended the Cincinnati Reds' 10-game winning streak. Salsa music played in the clubhouse customary when Jose Lima pitches but no one danced.
They kept their satisfaction to themselves after beating the team that swept a four-game series in the Astrodome last weekend.
"I think there's a little excitement in the clubhouse. They know this team beat them four straight and they wanted to do something about it."
The top of the Astros' order did most of the damage. The top four hitters piled up 10 of Houston's 15 hits, with the most important of them coming from cleanup hitter Carl Everett.
Everett had four hits, including an inside-the-park homer and a two-run double in the eighth that pulled the Astros into a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the NL Central. Jeff Bagwell added his 26th homer.
"We just wanted to win," Bagwell said. "It's not like we were trying to set a tone. We've won the division the last two years. This is a veteran team that's gone through some bad streaks before."
No team's been through a good streak quite like Cincinnati's. The Reds won 10 in a row against first-place teams, a first in the modern era.
The sweep in Houston last weekend rekindled interest in the Reds, who sold 11,000 tickets Friday and drew 35,591 for the game and a fireworks show afterwards.
"It was disappointing," said Reds starter Steve Parris, who struggled through five innings. "Hopefully they were here for the game and not just for the fireworks. It's disappointing to give up nine hits and five runs before 40,000 people."
The Reds made two comebacks but never led. The Astros went ahead to stay in the eighth and held on for only their second victory in eight games against Cincinati.
"You can't win 'em all," said Sean Casey, who homered on his 25th birthday. "We took four from them down there and they were hungry."
Everett rounded the bases for his 10th homer in the seventh inning, when his liner deflected off Mike Cameron's arm in center and rolled to the wall.
The Astros broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth against Stan Belinda (0-1), making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Craig Biggio had an infield single and Bagwell, who is 1-for-13 career off the right-hander, was intentionally walked with two outs to bring up Everett, who was 2-for-2 in his career with a homer off Belinda.
"That was the right move," said Belinda, who hung a split-finger fastball to Everett. "We had the right pitch selection, it just didn't have the movement. His job is to protect Bagwell. It was just a bad pitch on my part."
Everett doubled to right center for a 7-5 lead and was thrown out trying for a triple. It was the seventh four-hit game of Everett's career and his third this season.
"When you come through in those situations, you're praised. But it's part of your job," Everett said. "I enjoy those situations."
Billy Wagner gave up a walk in the ninth before closing it out for his 19th save in 20 chances. Afterwards, he said there was extra motivation to beat the Reds.
"There really is," he said. "They beat us pretty good down there. We were embarrassed by the way we played."
Jay Powell (4-1) got the win in relief of Lima, who failed to hold a pair of two-run leads. Lima, trying to become the NL's second 12-game winner, has two losses and a pair of no-decisions in his last four starts.
Casey hit a two-run homer, breaking an 0-for-9 slump that was his longest of the season, and Cameron had a solo shot off Lima. Michael Tucker's two-run, two-out triple tied it 5-5 in the seventh and ended Lima's outing.
Bagwell got Houston's offense rolling with a two-run homer in the first off Parris, his 19th on the road this season. It was Bagwell's 126th road homer, matching Jimmy Wynn for the Houston record.
Bagwell has four homers in his last seven games.
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