Series: Game 1 of 2

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 6/28)

Game 1: Friday, June 28
Houston 6Final
Texas 5
Game 2: Saturday, June 29
Houston 8Final
Texas 5
Game 3: Sunday, June 30
Houston Postponed

Astros 6

(35-43, 13-25 away)

Rangers 5

(35-44, 19-21 home)

    8:05 PM ET, June 28, 2002

    Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 020003001 6 - -
    TEX 002010011 5 - -

    W: R. Oswalt (8-5)

    L: C. Park (3-4)

    S: B. Wagner (12)

    Berkman, A-Rod hit 24th homers in game

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Roy Oswalt had just given up a triple in the seventh inning of a close game. But the Houston starter didn't given in, he struck out the next three Texas batters he faced.

    Oswalt didn't throw another pitch after that, and the Astros went on to the beat the Texas Rangers 6-5 Friday night in the resumption of the Lone Star Series.

    "That's the best single inning I've seen him pitch,'' Astros catcher Brad Ausmus said. "He certainly picked up his focus.''

    After Kevin Mench tripled to start the seventh, Oswalt (8-5) left him there with three straight strikeouts. Frank Catalanotto struck out on a nasty sinker -- the 111th and final pitch thrown by Oswalt, who left wiht a 5-3 lead.

    "He never ceases to amaze me with his intestinal fortitude. He's just got guts,'' center fielder Lance Berkman said. "A lot of time in adverse situations, he makes his best pitches. I had a great view, and you could see he turned it up a notch and got the job done.''

    Berkman added his 24th homer in the ninth, a 424-foot shot to center. That proved big since Mench homered in the ninth off Billy Wagner.

    Oswalt struck out nine while allowing three runs on seven hits. The right-hander, one of the NL's top rookies a year ago, is 20-7 with a 3.02 ERA in 37 career starts.

    Astros manager Jimy Williams didn't even considered sending Oswalt back out after his impressive seventh.

    "We thought he had done his job, pitching through seven innings. It was time for a change,'' Williams said.

    "I was running out of gas a little bit,'' Oswalt admitted. "You have to make pitches. With a runner on third, you have to focus on every pitch, and the biggest thing you have to do is make better pitches.''

    Ricky Stone took over to start the eighth, and gave up a run before Wagner got an inning-ending double play on his first pitch. Wagner got the last five outs for his 12th save.

    Orlando Merced hit a two-run homer off Chan Ho Park (3-4) and later scored on Brad Ausmus' go-ahead double for the Astros.

    Merced's homer, his fourth of the year, gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the second. Richard Hildago had reached on a double that hit off Juan Gonzalez's glove when the right fielder slipped on the warning track that had been soaked by a pregame thunderstorm.

    The Rangers went ahead 3-2 before the Astros scored three in the sixth. Hildago drew a one-out walk before Merced singled and Ausmus, the No. 9 hitter, doubled. Jose Vizcaino added a run-scoring single.

    Houston, which took 2-of-3 from the Rangers two weekends ago, has a 3-1 lead for this year's Silver Boot trophy. The two teams split their six games last year, the first they ever played in the regular season, but Texas was given the trophy for outscoring the Astros 44-28.

    Alex Rodriguez tied the game with a two-run homer in the third, a 435-foot shot to left-center after Ivan Rodriguez reached on a ground-rule double in the right-field corner. It was A-Rod's AL-leading 24th homer.

    After Rodriguez's homer, Oswalt struck out three of the next four hitters, including Gonzalez to end the third.

    Texas went ahead 3-2 in the fifth when Michael Young doubled and scored on a single by Frank Catalanotto, who was activated earlier in the day after seven weeks on the disabled list because of lower back problems.

    Park was pulled after giving up a two-out walk to Ausmus in the eighth. After he got to the dugout, Park took his frustration out by beating on a water cooler.

    "I didn't get tired. I just feel bad giving up a hit and a walk to the ninth-place batter,'' Park said. "Except for once pitch (Merced's homer), it was an OK outing.''

    Park allowed five runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked five. He threw 122 pitches, just 69 of them strikes.

    Ivan Rodriguez greeted Stone in the eighth with a single, then stole second before scoring on Gonzalez's single. Wagner got Rafael Palmeiro to ground into a double play on the first pitch he threw.

    Game notes

    Alex Rodriguez's homer was the longest hit at The Ballpark in Arlington this season. ... Rodriguez, the likely AL starter at shortstop in the All-Star game, had assists on five of the six outs in the fourth and fifth innings. ... Astros 2B Craig Biggio snapped an 0-for-12 slump with a third-inning single. ... Despite the thunderstorm that kept the Astros from taking batting practice on the field, the game started just two minutes late. ... Gonzalez drew a walk in the sixth, his first in nine games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press