As they headed into the All-Star break with three straight wins, the Houston Astros thanked Matt Galante.
Taking over as interim manager when Larry Dierker underwent brain surgery, the bench coach guided the Astros to a 13-14 record despite several injuries. When Dierker returns, the Astros will be one percentage point behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
"Matt's done a great job," said Jay Powell, who got the save in Sunday's 7-3 victory over Kansas City that completed a three-game sweep of the Royals. "We had some pitchers get hurt and it's not easy to manage when that happens. But Matt came through for us."
"We miss the skipper. But we got Galante and he did a great job for us. You have to give him credit," said Jose Lima, who got his 13th victory. "We've been doing the little things to win ballgames."
Pinch-hitter Carl Everett hit a two-run double in a five-run eighth inning for Houston (50-37), which is just behind the Reds (49-36) at the break.
"I've had a great experience with this," said Galante, who has coached for five Houston managers. "I've had a great time. The guys have been just as cooperative as I knew they'd be. That's the kind of guys we've got on this club."
Kansas City has lost five straight and nine of 12, and is 21 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.
"Everybody needs a rest, more so on the mental side of it," Kansas City manager Tony Muser said. "I need a break, too, but I think about the players more than I do myself."
Lima (13-4), one of three Astros pitchers picked for the NL All-Star team, took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth but needed relief help after giving up a one-out triple to Rey Sanchez, Carlos Beltran's RBI double and Johnny Damon's run-scoring single.
After Mike Sweeney's single, Powell came in and struck out Jermaine Dye with runners at first nd third.
Lima allowed three runs and nine hits in 7 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked none for the third time in four starts. He has walked two or fewer in his last six starts.
Jeff Bagwell, Bill Spiers and Everett each drove two runs for the Astros.
Jeff Suppan (4-5) retired his first nine batters but wound up giving up five runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Craig Biggio hit his league-leading 38th double leading off the fourth, and Houston took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Bagwell and Spiers.
Dye's run-scoring double in the seventh pulled Kansas City within a run, and Houston broke it open in the eighth.
Bagwell chased Suppan with an RBI single, Spiers hit a run-scoring single off Tim Byrdak and Richard Hidalgo walked. Everett added his double and Matt Mieske made it 7-1 with a sacrifice fly.
After Dye's double, Lima ended the inning by badly fooling rookies Jeremy Giambi and Jed Hansen on third strikes.
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