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Updated: Sunday, May 4, 2003 7:41 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Florida Marlins
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
2 10 2
Houston Astros
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R H E
5 9 0
W Lidge (3-0)
L Spooneybarger (1-1)
S Wagner (6)
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HOUSTON 5, FLORIDA 2
 

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Morgan Ensberg 's squeeze snapped an eighth-inning tie and Richard Hidalgo went 3-for-3, including a two-run homer, as the Houston Astros posted a 5-2 victory over the Florida Marlins .

With the score tied, 2-2, Brad Ausmus led off the eighth with a base hit and went to third one out later on Hidalgo's single up the middle. It appeared as if pitcher Tim Spooneybarger (1-1) could have made a play on the grounder, but he pulled his glove back thinking there was a chance at a double play.

"I was watching it (the ball), and it just stayed down," Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. "It just stayed down. It just went under his glove. Two of them went like that this game."

Ensberg followed with a bunt that third baseman Mike Lowell did not have a chance on, driving in Ausmus.

"I think it's difficult (to lay bunt down against Spooneybarger)," Ensberg said. "He's been up there around 92 miles per hour with his cut fastball, but the ball he threw me was right down the middle."

"Morgan did a good job of getting the bunt down. It was a good call," Ausmus said. "That's a pretty good baseball call, and you'll see it a lot from teams that are scrapping for wins like we are. We're struggling to score runs right now."

The move certainly caught Spooneybarger off guard.

"I wasn't looking for the squeeze," the pitcher admitted. "I was just trying to throw strikes. He (Ensberg) did a good job bunting the ball. I can't pitch around the guy right there, so that's all I can do is throw a strike."

Berkman then chopped a single to first base but Derrek Lee flipped the ball over Spooneybarger's head on the play, allowing Hidalgo to score.

"I don't think Spoon was looking at me," Lee said. "I think he was expecting the ball to come from second, because once I threw it, I noticed his eyes weren't really looking at me."

"I thought he (Lee) had thrown it to second, and when I looked up, ( Alex Gonzalez ) had made an arm fake from second," Spooneybarger said. "I thought that's where the ball was coming from and it wasn't. I just didn't pick it up when he flipped it to me."

Braden Looper came on and yielded a grounder to Jose Vizcaino . The Marlins got Berkman at second on the play but could not turn two as Ensberg scored to give the Astros a three-run lead.

"The inning kind of snowballed on us," Florida center fielder Juan Pierre said. "You know, maybe giving up the squeeze and that's it, but then we had some other kind of freaky plays in that inning and could never stop the bleeding. Getting down by three right there put us in a tough situation, and we just couldn't recover."

Ensberg and Berkman each collected two hits for Houston, which recorded its first sweep of the season. It last swept Florida in a three-game series from April 30-May 2, 1999 in Miami. The Astros' last three-game sweep of the Marlins in Houston was July 1-3, 1996.

Houston starter Roy Oswalt allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings, but rookie Brad Lidge (3-0) picked up the win after striking out two in a perfect eighth. Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.

"Our bullpen is throwing so great right now," Lidge said. "Everybody feeds on everybody else. Roy pitched seven great innings. He deserved to win, but I guess that's how you script it sometimes with me coming in in the eighth and Billy in ninth."

Pierre went 4-for-4 with an RBI and Luis Castillo extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the fifth inning, but Florida lost for the sixth time in eight games.

"It's tough because we know we had some chances there all series," Pierre said. "We easily could have swept them this series the way the games went. It was just one of those things where I was saying, 'I don't know if I'm bad luck or not?' When I was with the Rockies, I don't think I won one game here at Minute Maid Park. They always seem to play tough here at home."

Marlins starter Michael Tejera pitched well, yielding two runs and four hits in a season-high six innings, but did not earn a decision for the 13th time in as many appearances this season.

"He pitched great," Torborg said. "He came out of his stuff just for a little bit. He was outstanding. He deserved certainly a better fate than that. He only overthrew a couple of times, and one of them was the two-run homer. But he did a nice job pitching."

Gonzalez's eighth homer gave Florida a 1-0 lead in the fourth. But in the bottom of the inning, Hidalgo, who snapped a 0-for-10 slump in the second inning, belted a 1-0 pitch from Tejera over the left field fence after Tejera walked Jeff Bagwell to put Houston on top, 2-1.

However, the Marlins tied it in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Pierre, who had been in an 3-for-18 slide.


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