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Nomo wins for 11th time in past 12 decisions

HOUSTON (AP) -- Hideo Nomo only made one mistake, and that wasn't
enough for the Houston Astros to beat him.

Nomo won for the 11th time in his last 12 decisions, pitching
the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the Astros on Sunday.

"The home run was the only mistake he made all day. His
split-finger was unhittable. All you could do was fight it off and
hope you will get another pitch you can hit,'' said Geoff Blum, who
homered off Nomo.

The Dodgers, who lead the NL wild-card race, have won 13 of
their last 17 games.

Nomo (13-6) gave up five hits over seven innings, striking out
eight. He has lost only once since May 12 -- a span of 21 starts.

"We scored first, so that was good. Right after I gave up the
home run, from that point on, it was my goal not to give up any
runs after that,'' Nomo said.

Said Dodgers manager Jim Tracy: "I've run out of adjectives to
describe the job Hideo Nomo has done for this club all season.''

The loss was Houston's fourth in 11 games.

"He had everything going today. That split-finger would look
chest high and would end up in the dirt,'' said Houston's Daryle
Ward. "He didn't hang it at all, he kept it in the zone.''

Paul Quantrill and Jesse Orosco combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and Eric Gagne escaped
his own ninth-inning jam for his 46th save in 50 chances.

Jeff Bagwell led off the Astros ninth with a single. It was his
1,937th hit, tying Jose Cruz for second place on Houston's career
list.

Jason Lane followed Bagwell's hit with a bunt single, but Gagne
struck out Orlando Merced, got Geoff Blum on a foulout and fanned
Gregg Zaun to end it.

Carlos Hernandez (6-5) lost despite striking out a career-high
nine in six innings.

"Carlos did a good job, he gave us six good innings and he only
gave up two runs. He gave us a chance to win. We were still in it
until the last out,'' manager Jimy Williams said.

"The key was their pitching, we just couldn't score,'' he said.

Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Adrian Beltre
led off with a single, Eric Karros walked and Chad Kreuter bunted
for a single, loading the bases. Cesar Izturis lined a two-run
double down the right-field line.

Blum hit his eighth home run in the Astros second.

Game notes
Mark Loretta started at shortstop for Houston, a day after
being acquired in a trade from Milwaukee. He went 0-for-3 but
played well in the field. ... Craig Biggio leads the Astros career
hit list with 2,279. ... Los Angeles won its eighth straight
series.