Lidge has two hits, lasts just 3 innings in first start


MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Brad Lidge's baseball career has been marred injuries.

But not even a strained left intercostal muscle, which limited his first major league start to three innings, kept Lidge from smiling after he helped the Houston Astros beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 Wednesday night.

Lidge, making his first major league start, had an RBI double in the second and a run-scoring single off Glendon Rusch (10-14) that gave the Astros a 3-0 lead in the fourth. But when Lidge returned to the mound, he left because of the soreness on his left side.

"I got to first and I was hoping it wasn't too bad,'' he said after his second hit in his first two major league at-bats. "Obviously, you don't want to come out, but it was bothering me and definitely would have affected the way I pitched.''

Manager Jimy Williams concurred.

"It's too bad he came up with his ribcage problem,'' Williams
said, "but I just thought it best we take him out.''

Lidge allowed two hits, struck out four and walked two in three innings. He was 1-0 with a 9.53 ERA in five relief appearances.

Houston, which began the night 7½ games behind St. Louis in the
NL Central, has 10 games remaining. Milwaukee (53-98) moved within
two losses of its first 100-defeat season.

Milwaukee's Jose Hernandez struck out twice, moving within one of the season record of 189, set by Bobby Bonds in 1970.

After the game, manager Jerry Royster criticized fans for cheering Milwaukee strikeouts and booing when his players didn't whiff.

"It's too bad that had to happen,'' Royster said. "It was really disappointing because the fans have been pretty darn good ... it's pretty sad to watch.''

Ricky Stone pitched a scoreless fourth and then left with one in
the fifth after the Brewers loaded the bases on singles by Rusch
and Eric Young and a walk to Keith Ginter. Pedro Borbon retired Jim
Rushford, on a popup to the catcher, and Brandon Puffer (2-3) got
Richie Sexson on an inning-ending flyout.

Octavio Dotel pitched a scoreless eighth and Billy Wagne, the seventh Houston pitcher, had a perfect ninth for his 33rd save in 39 chances.

"It worked for us tonight,'' Williams said of his bullpen. "We used seven pitchers and we won a game, and I don't know how many times that happens.''

Jason Lane's RBI double put Houston ahead in the second, and
Lidge hit an RBI double in his first major league at-bat.

Ginter, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, hit a two-out RBI
double in the seventh off Tom Gordon.

"I gave up two hits to Ginter and I wasn't too happy with
that,'' said Lidge, who played with Ginter most of the season at
Triple-A New Orleans.

Rusch gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings.

Milwaukee had two on with less than two outs in three of the first five innings.

"They keys were our pitching and defense,'' Williams said.

Game notes
Rusch (200 2-3) joined Ben Sheets (201 2-3) in giving the Brewers two pitchers with more than 200 innings in the same season for the first time since 1996, when Ben McDonald and Scott Karl did
it. Rusch also is the first left-hander to reach 200-plus innings
since Karl. ... OF Ryan Thompson, who tore a tendon in his right hamstring while running to first base Tuesday night, doesn't need surgery but will miss the rest of the season. ... Roy Oswalt (19-6) is to pitch Thursday against the Brewers, trying to become the first Astro to reach 20 wins since Mike Hampton (22) and Jose Lima (21) in 1999.