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Updated: Saturday, July 5, 2003 2:05 AM EDT
Houston Astros
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2 6 1
Pittsburgh Pirates
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3 5 1
W Boehringer (4-2)
L Munro (3-4)
S Williams (23)
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PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates and Reggie Sanders continue to pound the ball and, for once, did not get pounded by the Houston Astros .

Sanders crushed a tie-breaking homer in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Pirates homered for the eighth straight game and edged the Astros, 3-2.

Sanders has homered five times in the last 10 games and is batting .309 with four doubles, five homers and 13 RBI over his last 22 games. He has five homers in his last 12 home games and Friday staked Pittsburgh to a 3-2 lead with a blast to left field off Houston reliever Peter Munro (3-4).

"I definitely had a good feeling," Sanders said. "It was a fastball over the plate that left the ballpark, a good feeling for me and the team."

"Reggie has been great for us, he is one guy who has helped us on our current streak were on, I hope he can continue that," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Pittsburgh, which has set a season high with homers in eight straight games, won for just the second time in nine games with Houston. The Pirates have been outscored, 62-31, in those nine contests.

Houston starter Ron Villone allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

Pittsburgh's Kris Benson surrendered one run and five hits in six innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.

Brian Boehringer (4-2) followed and allowed the tying run in the seventh but notched the win. Mike Williams got the side in order in the ninth and secured his 23rd save in 27 opportunities.

Houston took a quick lead, scoring in the opening inning on a double by Lance Berkman that plated Geoff Blum .

The Astros left runners at the corners in the second and Pittsburgh stranded two in the fourth. Benson escaped a jam in the fifth, striking out Jeff Bagwell with a runner at second base.

The Pirates left two on in the fifth but caught a weather-related break in the sixth.

Brian Giles opened the inning with a walk and, one out later, Sanders singled. Villone struck out Craig Wilson but fell behind Adam Hyzdu , 3-0. The skies opened and there was a 72-minute delay.

When play resumed, Brandon Puffer replaced Villone and Matt Stairs took over for Hyzdu. Puffer's first pitch was wild and when it bounced away, Giles scored from second to tie the game. Jack Wilson followed with a single for a 2-1 lead.

"I saw the way the ball caromed off the brick, (third base coach John) Russell gave me the OK and it took me across," Giles said of the wild pitch. "I have never seen it happen like that before, the wall has more nooks and crannies, it was just a freak occurrence in baseball. You can't do anything to defend it. "

McClendon thought the rain did not have a negative impact on his club.

"The rain did not distract us, it probably helped us, the wild pitch to score the run and Wilson came up with the big hit," he said.

Boehringer ran into immediate trouble in the seventh, hitting Brad Ausmus and surrendering a single to Eric Bruntlett . A bunt moved the runners over and Brian Hunter knotted the game with a long sacrifice fly to left.

Munro took over in the seventh and cruised through the inning. After Houston stranded a runner in the eighth, Sanders gave Pittsburgh the lead in the bottom of the inning.

"If we continue to get the pitching and get some pop from Sanders, Giles, (Aramis) Ramirez ... we'll win," Pirates catcher Jason Kendall said.

"It's not one or two guys," Giles said. "We have more guys that can contribute."

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