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Updated: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 1:14 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 8 1
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
18 17 2
W Villone (6-2)
L Perez (10-10)
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HOUSTON 18, LOS ANGELES 4
 

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Odalis Perez 's troubles in Houston continued.

Jeff Kent homered and drove in five runs and Brad Ausmus matched his RBI total for the month with four as the Houston Astros pounded Perez and the Los Angeles Dodgers , 18-4.

Perez (10-10), who had won his previous four starts, came in with an 0-2 record in two career starts in Houston, including one at Minute Maid Park. But things started out favorably in this one, as the Dodgers grabbed a 3-0 advantage in the first inning.

But the lefthander quickly surrendered the lead, allowing two runs in the bottom half, one in the second and one in the third. The Astros broke open the game in the fifth, scoring six times for a 10-3 cushion.

"Odalis had a very good fastball tonight, but he had trouble locating it," Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy said. "And when he went to his changeup, it was up."

Perez was pulled after allowing 10 runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out six. He has yielded 23 earned runs in 13 2/3 career innings vs. the Astros for a 15.15 ERA.

"I don't know what happened," Perez said. "Everything was fine and I felt good before the game. But when I was out there, it was like they knew what was coming, like they knew what I was going to throw. It wasn't like I was making mistakes, they just hit it - inside, outside, up and down, they hit everything."

Kent began Houston's onslaught with a two-run homer in the first inning. It was his 19th of the season, leaving him three shy of Craig Biggio 's team record by a second baseman.

Kent added a three-run double in the fifth, while Ausmus plated runs with a double in the second, a forceout in the sixth and a triple in the seventh that brought in two.

Jeff Bagwell hit a solo homer in the third, putting him three RBI away from becoming the 58th player in major league history to reach the 1,400 plateau. He also is one home run from being the 13th player to hit 30 in eight consecutive seasons.

Houston's season-high run-scoring outburst made a winner of Ron Villone (6-2), who allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. The southpaw walked two and struck out five en route to his third straight win and fourth in five decisions.

"I dug us into a pretty big hole early, but the offense put up some runs and got me out of it," Villone said. "I had to get better. I just came after them with some fastballs and see what they'd do with it. ... I just had to get back on track."

"Early on, it wasn't that easy for him, but in the second, he had to make some pitches to keep us in the game," Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "Villone was big and kept us in the game just like he has been doing all season. He has really been big for us and most of the times that he's gone out there, he has been able to give us six innings."

The Dodgers got to Villone early, as Dave Roberts led off the game with a single and Paul Lo Duca walked. After Shawn Green struck out, Roberts stole third and scored on a throwing error by Ausmus.

Fred McGriff followed with his 11th homer, a two-run shot to right that tied him with Willie Stargell for 34th place on the all-time RBI list with 1,540. He is now 11 shy of becoming the 20th player to join the 500-homer club.

The Astros answered with two runs in the bottom half. Morgan Ensberg , who was celebrating his 28th birthday, drew a one-out walk and stole second. After a groundout by Bagwell, Kent deposited a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall.

Lance Berkman and Ausmus opened the second with back-to-back doubles, tying the game at 3-3, and Bagwell hit a one-out blast to left to put the Astros in front.

"Obviously, you can't expect to do that against the Dodgers every time," Bagwell said of his team's production. "They lead the league with an ERA under 3.00 and they have one of the toughest staffs in the game. We have a lot of confidence in the hitters that we have and you have to think that hitting is contagious."

Roberts led off the fifth with a single but was caught stealing. Lo Duca followed with a double that likely would have knotted the contest. Villone retired Green and McGriff to end the inning, and Houston tagged Perez for six runs in the bottom half.

After Villone struck out, the Astros loaded the bases with singles by Biggio and Bagwell around a walk by Ensberg. Kent then stroked a double to right-center that drove in three to make it 7-3.

Berkman, Adam Everett and Villone added RBI singles to chase Perez.

"You just have to take this game as you can and hopefully you can build on it," Williams said. "You always like to see those crooked numbers in the bottom of the innings when you're hitting."

Ausmus started a five-run rally in the sixth with an RBI forceout, and pinch hitter Jason Lane ripped a three-run double to deep right field. Biggio capped the inning with a run-scoring single, giving the Astros a 15-3 cushion.

"It was just one of those games where we were able to do that," Bagwell said. "People joke about saving runs for the next game, but you don't really think about that. You just have to feel fortunate to have a night like this and try to take it into the next game."

Pinch hitter David Ross homered in the seventh for the Dodgers, but Ausmus smacked a two-run double and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Alex Cora in the bottom of the inning.

"I don't know what to say about tonight," Tracy said. "All we can do right now is forget it, put it behind us and go at it tomorrow. ... They hit the ball and they hit it often. They scored an awful lot of runs and that is about it."


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