Sexson feasts on Astros' pitching

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Astros quickly put themselves right
back into a jam.

Richie Sexson homered twice and doubled as the Milwaukee Brewers
beat Houston 12-5 Friday night, dropping the Astros a half-game
behind idle Chicago in the NL Central.

"What we've got to do is sleep real fast and come back here
tomorrow ready to go," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "We
just didn't execute like we're capable of and because of that we
got ourselves in a hole and they were up 9-1."

There was no need for scoreboard watching at Minute Maid Park.
The Pittsburgh-Cubs game at Wrigley Field was rained out earlier in
the day and a doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday.

If the Cubs sweep the three-game series with the Pirates, they
are the champions.

"This is not the end of the world," Astros star Jeff Bagwell
said. "All it means is we've got to win our next two and hope they
lose one of three. You don't expect games like this late in a
season, in a pennant drive. But I guess those things happen."

Sexson hit an RBI double during a six-run second inning. He hit
a solo homer off Rick White in the fifth and a two-run shot in the
seventh off Kirk Bullinger.

Sexson has 45 homers this season, tying his own franchise record
set in 2001. Gorman Thomas also hit 45 homers in 1979. It was
Sexson's fourth multihomer game this season and the 16th of his

"It's a good feeling to play the spoiler role," Sexson said.
"That's where our intensity lies. That's how we get upbeat for the
game. We take intensity from their crowd. We use that to get us

"We saw Chicago got rained out so we knew this was a very
important game for both teams."

The Astros fell behind 3-0 in the first inning when Jeriome
Robertson (15-9) forced in the first run with a bases-loaded walk
and allowed an RBI single Wes Helms, and reliever Ricky Stone
walked home the third run.

That was just the beginning of the Astros' misery, who tied a
team record with eight pitchers.

The Brewers broke it open the next inning against Stone and Kirk
Saarloos. All six runs scored after two outs and the burst was
aided by two Astros errors.

Brady Clark walked with two out and scored on Sexson's double.
Mark Smith followed with an RBI single, Helms was intentionally
walked and Saarloos came on and walked Keith Osik.

Royce Clayton then dribbled a single down the third-base line.
Saarloos lunged for the ball and threw wildly home for an error as
two more runs scored.

Wayne Franklin then hit an RBI single and Scott Podsednik had a
grounder to second baseman Jeff Kent, who made misplayed the ball
and allowed another run to score that made it 9-1.

The Astros got one run in the first on Bagwell's double and two
more scored in the second inning on pinch-hitter Mitch Meluskey's
double and a single by Craig Biggio.

Richard Hidalgo had a sacrifice fly and Adam Everett had an RBI
single in the Houston third.

Dave Burba (1-1) pitched 2 1-3 innings for the victory.

Robertson, the club rookie record holder with 15 victories,
threw 18 pitches, only seven for strikes. He allowed two hits and
three earned runs.

"I went out there and I felt fine," Robertson said. "Then
something happened. I booted that first ball and once that happened
I was leaving the ball up and away. Walks kill you.

Game notes
Sexson has hit more homers in a three-year span than any
other Brewers player. He has 119 and has surpassed Thomas, who had
115 from 1978-80.