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Astros' Miller regains control after wild start

5/2/2004

HOUSTON (AP) -- Striking out the opposing pitcher helped Wade
Miller turn his night around.

Miller regained his control after a wild start and got plenty of
offensive support from the Houston Astros in a 10-4 victory over
the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.

Miller was trailing 3-2 in the third inning after giving up two
hits and four walks.

"In the second and third innings I felt a little off," he
said. "I just wasn't letting the ball go. I was holding back for
some reason.

"But in the fourth, the pitcher (Aaron Harang) came up and I
tried to let it go just to see how it would feel. Mentally I had
been holding back, not on purpose, but after I let go against the
pitcher and got that strikeout, I felt better."

Miller retired 11 of the last 13 hitters he faced.

"He really battled through some adversity and wildness,"
Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "But the last couple of
innings he was out there were his best innings."

Miller (3-2) struck out seven and walked six in improving to 7-1
against the Reds, who have lost four in a row.

"He bailed them out of some spots," Reds manager Dave Miley
said. "We had some good AB's against them but he has good stuff
and he made the pitches when he had to."

The Reds could hardly tell that Miller was struggling.

"I think at the beginning he didn't have his best stuff," said
Sean Casey who ended a 10-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3
night. "Then he settled down. He's getting more mature as a
pitcher. He's got some of the best stuff in the league. Tonight he
did what he had to do to get out with a win. He pretty much shut us
down."

Jeff Kent drove in four runs and the Houston Astros had 16 hits.
Richard Hidalgo went 3-for-4 with three RBI.

The Astros roughed up starter Harang (2-1), who allowed four
runs on 10 hits in just 4 1-3 innings. Cincinnati's pitching staff
has struggled throughout the Reds' 3-5 road trip, having given up
10 or more hits in all eight games so far.

With the Astros trailing 3-2 in the fourth, Brad Ausmus hit a
one-out single to right, moved to second on Miller's sacrifice and
scored on Craig Biggio's single to center.

The Astros went ahead 4-3 in the fifth on Richard Hidalgo's
bases-loaded sacrifice

In the sixth, Adam Dunn lost Jeff Bagwell's high pop fly down
the left-field line and it bounced free as Orlando Palmeiro scored
from second. Bagwell, who went 3-for-5, was credited with an RBI
double. Kent followed with an RBI single to make it 6-3.

Kent drove in two more in the eighth with a double, and Hidalgo
hit a two-run triple one batter later to give Houston a 10-3 lead.

Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first when Biggio, who was
3-for-4, scored on a wild pitch by Harang and Kent hit a sacrifice
fly.

Brandon Larson's two-run homer, his first of the season, tied it
in the second inning for the Reds.

In the third, Ken Griffey hit an RBI double to give the Reds a
short-lived 3-2 lead.

Game notes
Reds INF Juan Castro, out since last Monday with back
spasms, took batting practice for the second straight day and said
he was ready to play. ... Houston is 13-1 when leading after the
sixth inning. ... Biggio's three hits left him eight short of
becoming the first Astros player and 80th major leaguer to collect
2,500 career hits. His double was his 527th career, breaking a tie
with Dave Parker for 29th on the major league list, one short of
Frank Robinson for 28th place.