Series: Game 1 of 3

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 5/18)

Game 1: Tuesday, May 18
Game 2: Wednesday, May 19
Game 3: Thursday, May 20

Astros 9

(23-15, 11-4 away)

Marlins 2

(21-17, 9-7 home)

    7:05 PM ET, May 18, 2004

    Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 120213000 9 15 0
    FLA 000101000 2 7 1

    W: W. Miller (5-3)

    L: D. Willis (4-2)

    Astros bang out 15 hits

    MIAMI (AP) -- One week later, the Houston Astros solved the unorthodox delivery of Dontrelle Willis.

    Lance Berkman homered and had four of Houston's 15 hits to lead the Astros over the Florida Marlins 9-2 Tuesday night.

    "People want to credit his success with people not being able to pick the ball up, but that's not it -- he has good stuff," Berkman said. "Like any good pitcher, when he's locating the ball and hitting his spots, he's tough to hit. And then on a night like tonight, when he's maybe struggling with his command, leaving some balls over the plate and walking some guys, you get that result."

    Brad Ausmus also connected and had three RBI in support of Wade Miller (5-3).

    Willis, who threw 91 pitches in a complete-game victory at Houston last Wednesday, threw 96 pitches in just four innings. Willis (4-2) allowed five runs and 11 hits, walked four and hit a batter.

    "I couldn't get my sinker in the zone," he said. "They did a good job of being patient as opposed to swinging early. I didn't give myself a chance to win today. Every time you looked up I was behind, walking guys, especially with two outs."

    Berkman is 25-for-63 (.397) with 12 RBI and 14 runs scored in his last 21 games.

    "I don't feel like I'm really hot," Berkman said. "I just feel like I'm going up there and having good at-bats."

    Florida lost for the third time in four games, and lost by the most runs this season.

    Miller gave up two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, walked three and struck out five. Three relievers combined for 3 1-3 innings of hitless relief.

    "The last time, I gave up two home runs to Mike Lowell, so that was a little different," said Miller, who lost to Willis in Houston. "I think I was throwing my breaking ball better over the plate tonight."

    Houston stranded 10 runners.

    We left 17 men on base in a game we lost in 13 innings," Astros manager Jimy Williams said, referring to a loss to the Mets. "So if you have the right people up, and it doesn't work, so be it."

    The Astros opened an early 3-0 lead against Willis, who gave up more runs through two innings than he did during his complete-game victory.

    "He went after them in Houston, made them hit the first or second pitch," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "Today it was ball one, ball two, ball three, ball four. Ball one ..."

    Jeff Kent's one-out RBI single followed walks to Adam Everett and Jeff Bagwell in the first, when Houston left the bases loaded.

    Everett and Bagwell each had an RBI single in the second. Berkman's third hit, a run-scoring double, and Ausmus' RBI single knocked in the runs that gave Houston a 5-0 lead in the fourth.

    The Marlins got their first run when Lowell scored from third on Miller's wild pitch in the fourth.

    Berkman's solo home run and Ausmus' two-run shot both came in the sixth off reliever Justin Wayne.

    Richard Hidalgo was 1-for-5 and struck out four times.

    Game notes

    Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula threw out the first pitch. ... Miller, who entered batting .333 (4-for-12), singled in each of his first two at-bats. ... Florida failed to homer in a season-high fifth consecutive game. ... With his fourth-inning single, Lowell extended his hitting streak to nine games and has hit safely in 17 of his last 18. ... Marlins RHP A.J. Burnett, coming off Tommy John surgery, threw 4 1-3 innings in an extended spring training game at Jupiter, Fla. He could rejoin the Marlins as early as June 2. ... Arizona's Randy Johnson is scheduled to pitch Sunday at Florida. "He did throw a perfect game?" McKeon asked. "Great, get it out of his system before he gets here."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press