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Updated: Thursday, September 11, 2003 8:15 PM EDT
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
3 9 0
Milwaukee Brewers
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
5 10 1
W Sheets (11-12)
L Villone (6-4)
S Kolb (17)
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MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- After a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers , the first-place Houston Astros chose to look at the positives of their 10-game road trip.

Houston completed its journey with a 5-3 defeat to Milwaukee as rookie Scott Podsednik and Keith Osik drove in two runs apiece and Ben Sheets pitched eight strong innings.

The Astros had a three-game winning streak stopped, but finished their trek with a 7-3 mark. They remain one game ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division and 2 1/2 games in front of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs and Cardinals also lost Thursday.

"It's kind of a long road trip, especially this time of year. But it was productive from the standpoint of how we played," Houston manager Jimy Williams said.

"That's a heck of a road trip - 7-3 in a pennant race - that's big," Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell added. "We've been taking care of business and, even though it's hard to lose on getaway day, we'll take the seven wins."

Podsednik belted his first career leadoff homer off and added a run-scoring single in the seventh as the Brewers snapped a six-game losing streak.

Osik's two-run double to left field put Milwaukee ahead for good, 4-2, in the fourth inning. He was happy to give his team the lead after his error in the top of the fourth led to two runs.

"After the error I made, I wanted to atone for the mistake and get at least one run in," Osik said. "(The hit) just happened to fall in there."

With runners on first and third, Richard Hidalgo , who had singled, stole second. Osik's throw went into center field allowing Lance Berkman to score.

Hidalgo went to third on the play and scored on Geoff Blum 's single.

After Podsednik's run-scoring base hit, Keith Ginter followed with an RBI single that provided Milwaukee with a 5-2 bulge.

The Astros got within 5-3 in the eighth when Bagwell hit a ground-rule double and scored his 100th run of the season on a single by Berkman. Bagwell has scored 100 runs in a season eight times in his career.

Sheets (11-12) allowed three runs and eight hits, struck out four and walked one to earn his first win since July 29 against the New York Mets . He had been 0-5 in his prior seven outings.

The 25-year-old righthander improved to 6-2 lifetime against the Astros, winning six in a row against them, and matched his career high for wins in a season.

"(Sheets) threw more of his fastball," Osik said. "The last couple of times out, maybe he was getting a little more tired. Today, I decided that we were going to pitch less and go right at them."

"He was good and strong all day today," Brewers manager Ned Yost said of Sheets. "We wanted to give him the opportunity to throw a lot of pitches (127) and go eight innings and he did that."

Danny Kolb tossed a scoreless ninth for his 17th consecutive save for Milwaukee, which finished its 10-game homestand with a 3-7 record.

Ron Villone (6-4) took the loss after giving up three runs and five hits in six innings.

"I threw too many strikes with guys on base," Villone said. "(My teammates) got me back in the game, but I couldn't hold the lead."

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