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Barker, Brewers Edge Astros


It took Kevin Barker more than three years to reach the majors but only one game for the Milwaukee rookie to make a big impression.

Barker, making his major league debut, hit a go-ahead single in the ninth inning as the Brewers beat Houston 6-5 Thursday and stopped the Astros' three-game winning streak.

Barker, a 24-year-old first baseman, flied to center in the second, then singled in the third for his first major league hit. He went 2-for-5.

"I was just trying to kind of fit in and hustle and make it fun," he said. "I admit I was nervous. I haven't able to breathe since (batting practice). It's kind of exciting. This should help, but I'm sure I'll still be nervous. I'll be this way for at least a week."

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Game Summary

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  • Milwaukee manager Jim Lefebvre said he was thinking of his debut when he penciled Barker's name in the lineup.

    "I went 0-for-4 and popped up every time, I'll never forget that," Lefebvre said. "We were just hoping he'd get in there and get comfortable. You're always hoping the first time they'll hit a home run and have a storybook finish. But he got two hits and drove in the winning run so it was still a storybook. He has a lot of talent, we're going to play him and see what he can do."

    Brian Banks finished a career-high 4-for-4 with an RBI, and Marquis Grissom went 3-for-5 against Houston, which began the day one game ahead of second-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.

    "It was real exciting, a lot of young guys chipped in to get this final game," Banks said. "It was huge for us to win after last night."

    Milwaukee, which had 17 hits, led 5-2 before Tony Eusebio's two-run homer in the seventh off Scott Karl. Jeff Bagwell tied it with an RBI single in the eighth off Rocky Coppinger (2-1).

    Alex Ochoa singled off Jay Powell (4-3) leading off the ninth. Grissom reached on a fielder's choice and advanced when shortstop Tim Bogar's throw to first went into the dugout for an error. Barker then singled and Grissom scored without a slide.

    "I made a bad decision and a bad throw," Bogar said. "I should have never made the throw. I didn't have a good grip on the ball and I should have never thrown it. It came back to bite us."

    Bob Wickman got three outs for his 25th save. Pinch-hitter Bill Spiers had a leadoff single in the ninth and Bogar walked with one out, but pinch-hitter Daryle Ward struck out and Craig Biggio lined out to center.

    Karl, who had two RBIs, allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, retiring 11 straight during one stretch. Houston's Chris Holt gave up five runs and 13 hits in seven innings, allowing singles to seven of his first 10 batters.

    "Karl shut us down pretty good there and (Bob) Wickman is one of the best," Bagwell said.

    Run-scoring singles by Karl and Ron Belliard put Milwaukee ahead in the second, but Houston tied it in the bottom half on RBI singles by Eusebio and Holt following shortstop Jose Valentin's team-leading 17th error.

    "It was a sloppy game," Houston manager Larry Dierker said. "You want to know what I really think? I really think we shouldn't be playing at 12:30 after a night game, but whatever for television I guess that's what we're going to do."

    Milwaukee took a 5-2 lead in the third on Grissom's RBI fielder's-choice grounder to third baseman Ken Caminiti, Brian Banks' RBI double and Karl's sacrifice fly.

    Caminiti threw home on Grissom's grounder but Geoff Jenkins beat the throw.

    "If we would have got that out, that might have changed the whole complexion of the game," Dierker said.

    Notes

  • Milwaukee third baseman Jeff Cirillo was ejected by plate umpire Paul Nauert for arguing a called third strike in the second.
  • For the first time since Aug. 12-24, 1973, the Brewers have gone 10 consecutive games without a home run.
  • The Astros have won 16 of their last 21 games against the Brewers.
  • The Astros lead the majors with 135 stolen bases.

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