Miller cruises; Berkman hits homer No. 20


HOUSTON (AP) -- It's been a while since Wade Miller felt this
good. Sept. 7, to be exact -- the last time he won a game.

Miller won for the first time this season and Lance Berkman hit
a solo home run as the Houston Astros snapped a four-game losing
streak with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

"It felt nice and easy, just like my old self,'' Miller said.
"It seemed like a long time. It's the best I've felt this year.
Everything seemed to click. I wasn't trying to overdo it. I just
went out and pitched and tried to throw strikes.''

Miller (1-2) was the Astros' Opening Day pitcher but he was on
the disabled list from April 13 until May 29, recovering from a
pinched nerve in his neck. It was a slow start after a 16-8 finish
last season.

"That's an accomplishment in itself after what he's gone
through,'' Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "Probably the last
time he went seven innings was last year.''

The Astros, who had lost six of seven, beat Kerry Wood for the
first time. Wood was 5-0 in seven career starts against Houston.

"Obviously, we haven't done a great job of hitting against him
before,'' Berkman said. "But he's a great pitcher. To get four
runs off that guy, you should win.''

Miller pitched seven innings, allowed seven hits, two runs and
struck out eight. He didn't walk a batter.

"He threw like he threw many times last year,'' Astros catcher
Brad Ausmus said. "He's not really a pinpoint control guy, but he
has very good velocity and very good movement. He had it all going

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.

Wood (6-4) pitched six innings and walked only one batter but
had early control problems. He knocked down Craig Biggio with an
inside pitch in the third inning.

"I just didn't have my good stuff,'' Wood said. "I had a hard
time locating my fastball, but on a positive note, my curveball was
better than it has been and so was my cutter.

"I got behind on the counts a lot earlier and I didn't have a
lot on my fastball.''

Biggio struck out, but Wood also flattened the next batter,
Geoff Blum, before walking him on four pitches. After Berkman hit
an RBI double to make it 2-0, Wood hit Jeff Bagwell with a pitch.

Daryle Ward's sacrifice fly made it 3-0 in the third.

The Astros got their first run in the first inning when Biggio
led off with a double and scored on Blum's double to center field.

Wood allowed a season-high nine hits, four earned runs and
struck out six.

Corey Patterson hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning off

"It's frustrating for the staff,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor
said. "It's been like that for a while. But the pitchers keep
going out there like Kerry did. Four runs isn't insurmountable but
we can't seem to climb the hill."

Berkman hit his 20th homer in the bottom of the fifth.

Game notes
Cubs closer Tom Gordon threw for about 15 minutes in the
bullpen continuing his recovery from a torn shoulder muscle. He
will pitch in a simulated game on Wednesday and could be activated
from the disabled list. "I'd like to activate him tomorrow,''
Baylor said. "He needs to face some hitters, but the way he threw
today you could never tell he'd been injured.'' ... The Astros were
playing in their newly renamed ballpark, Minute Maid Park. ... The
Cubs recalled INF Augie Ojeda from Triple-A Iowa to fill the roster
spot left by C Robert Machado, who was traded to Milwaukee ...
Astros RHP Scott Linebrink will pitch two innings in a
rehabilitation start Tuesday at Triple-A New Orleans and one inning
each Friday and Saturday at Double-A Round Rock. He is recovering
from a strained right elbow. ... Cubs 2B Bobby Hill is hitless in
six games and 0-for-18 in that stretch.