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Houston falls half-game behind Cubs

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Brian Giles remembers well the first homer he
hit in San Diego when he returned to his hometown while playing for
Pittsburgh in 1999.

Now he has another sentimental shot to cherish.

Giles hit his first home run for San Diego as the Padres beat
Houston 7-1 Sunday, dropping the Astros out of first place in the
NL Central.

The Astros had won three in a row, but the loss put them a
half-game behind Chicago. The Cubs beat Milwaukee 9-2 for their
fifth straight victory.

Giles put the Padres ahead with a two-run homer in the first
inning. It was his 17th home run overall this year, and his first in
nine games with the Padres since being traded Aug. 26.

"Once I got traded, I thought about it," Giles said.
"Obviously, it was nice to get one here in my first game with
Pittsburgh. To do it in a Padre uniform also is definitely
something special."

Giles later doubled and drew a bases-loaded walk from Wade Miller (12-12) in the fifth.

"I felt like I had been struggling," Giles said.

Gary Bennett hit a three-run double in the sixth and Ramon Vazquez had an RBI single that gave San Diego a 7-1 lead.

Jake Peavy (11-10) beat the Astros for the second straight
start. He held them to one run and two hits over six innings, while
overcoming six walks.

Peavy endured a wild spell in the fourth, when he issued four
walks, including three straight after Jeff Kent hit a solo shot for
his 21st homer of the season.

With the bases loaded, Peavy struck out Adam Everett on a 2-2
pitch to end the threat.

"I was having trouble locating the ball," Peavy said. "In
that spot, you just try to tell yourself, 'C'mon.' That's when you
need to reach back and step it up."

Four Padres relievers shut out Houston on three hits the rest of the way.

"It was a tough game," said Astros leadoff batter Craig Biggio, who drew two walks. "We are just trying to keep living every day and trying to put each game into the book one at a time."

Miller didn't survive a streak of wildness in the fifth inning.
He hit two batters in a row and issued a bases-loaded walk to Giles
before he was pulled when the count went to 2-0 on the next batter.

"I just didn't have it," Miller said. "My arm is a little
dead right now ... "

Reliever Mike Gallo inherited the 2-0 count on Phil Nevin with the bases loaded and induced a grounder to shortstop for a double
play to escape further harm.

"This is fun right now," Giles said. "We may not be going to
the postseason, but we're playing teams to whom every game means
something. We can definitely feed off their momentum. Our team has
done that."

Game notes
RHP Roy Oswalt is scheduled to start for the Astros on
Monday, returning from a strained right groin that has kept him on
the disabled list since July 30. He had two earlier stints on the
disabled list with the same injury this season. ... Astros RHP
Octavio Dotel is considered day-to-day because of a strained left
gluteus sustained in the eighth inning of Saturday's game. ...
Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, who joined the club May 17
in the place of fired Greg Booker, will be signed to return for
next season and maybe longer, according to general manager Kevin
Towers. ... Towers also says he doesn't anticipate any changes to
the Padres coaching staff for next season. After last season, the
Padres released coaches Tim Flannery and Duane Espy. ... The
Astros' Morgan Ensberg, who went 4-for-4 Saturday, started this
game with a single and then walked.